Rambo V: Last Blood vs Downton Abbey - Talk about whiplash!
By Mo Murphy
Just try it. Try watching the assaulting/insulting Rambo: Last Blood and then relax and take in something at the other end of the spectrum: Downton Abbey as a double feature! It’s like eating an artery-plugging, brain-clogging, heart-stopping junk food meal and then having a tangy, yet sweet healthy sorbet to cleanse one's filthy palette afterwards. Basically, it's a trip to polar opposite worlds.
First, even if you’re in a cozy theater with reclining seats and you've brought your blanket and pillow, Rambo (number-whatever) is still a nightmare. Sylvester Stallone (now 73) sits heavily atop a horse on the big screen feigning the Marlboro Man, but looking more like Mr. Potato Head, although less animated. Even the mare is irritated by having to play a part in this.
It’s not about ageism or looks, I'll get back to that. It’s about not growing up. It’s about not letting go of an image that maybe worked a long time ago when killing immigrants wasn't a popular sport in this country. It’s about not being irresponsible with a central message. This movie-maker must think he has a built in-audience he can use to line his pockets in anticipation of his eventual retirement. That audience is dwindling, God only hopes, Or perhaps the opioid crisis has taken a bigger chunk of our nation than I thought. Possibly Stallone believes the crap he's conveying. That makes him a disgruntled old bigot who should be sent to pasture - without his violent toys.
Why? Well, as for the film itself, we're sucker-punched by a weak, regurgitated plot with embarrassing '80's-esq dialogue and stiff performances (mainly from the old action-doll himself.) Mostly, I feel sorry for the supporting cast who had to be a part of this ... and of course the horse. It's the same old idiotic one-man army who's found a new enemy across a border (with no walls.) This time he's seeking revenge for the kidnapping and killing of his beloved niece (didn't see that coming!) The druggy, rapist, non-human beings on the other side of the border (with no walls) get their comeuppance in the only way this non-creative movie-maker knows how to do it: Kill people in fun and funny (?) ways. Hey, let’s bring it on and get our zombie-nation pissed off at a pseudo enemy then blast them to smithereens! How responsible. How smart. Oh, and if you really want to be entertained look for the fence, er, I mean wall metaphors in this piece of …
On the other hand, even if the theater is cold and you are sitting nose to nose with the screen because well, you snuck in … there is Downton Abbey. What a complete joy to fall into and get lost in a simple plot (the king and queen are coming for dinner) and wonderful subplots with rich characters, even though many are poor. And the humor – God thank you for allowing us to laugh with them instead of at them (as was the case with Rambo 5.)
And old? Maggie Smith (now only 84) is the most delicious well rounded, animated – merely sitting or standing - of them all. Take that, Sylvester Stallone. Every time she opens her mouth, you hold your breath, listen and laugh with Smith's wit, cunning and knowing glances. How delectable … the writing, the delivery, the sheer joy.
Every scene catapults us into the middle of this country home’s chaotic drama without exposition (being told through dialogue what the “f” is happening.) We catch on quickly even if we don’t know the backstory or haven’t watched the series and get taken for a wonderful ride and then thank our lucky stars there is still a reason to go to the movies: Witty writing, beautiful cinematography, editing you don’t notice, a thematic score that sweeps you through all the emotions (not the manipulative thump, thump music of the other film) and performances that are worthy of Oscar consideration.
If I could articulate the difference about how I felt after watching each movie: Rambo: Last Blood and Downton Abbey – I'd suggest you try it for yourself. It’s quite a cultural experience.
But please pay to see the latter, we don’t want to encourage the first, Just give Rambo V the award it's gunning for - The Razzie!
That Dead Horse Rides Again
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