I feel like it's impossible to come from New Jersey and not love Sylvester Stallone (not that he's originally from Jersey or anything — the guy was actually born in Hell's Kitchen, N.Y.) but there's something about him that people from my home state identify with.
So, you can understand as a young man, I gobbled up everything he was ever in, even some of his lamer movies, and Rambo: Last Blood, which features Yvette Monreal as his niece, is no different.
The 2008 Rambo was a brilliant action flick that was released some 20 years since Rambo III, so I'm not worried about the new one not being absolutely amazing (despite last seeing him mow down baddies 11 years ago).
Rambo: Last Blood plot explained:
In the film, John Rambo's chilling in Arizona on a farm, spending his days breaking down horses and being a reflective old combat badass just trying to live out the rest of his life in peace.
Of course, it wouldn't be any kind of movie at all without some conflict, and like every Rambo movie, the conflict in Last Blood turns violent right quick. What spurs on that violence?
Well, his neighbor's granddaughter, played by Yvette Monreal, who Rambo treats as his niece, decides to go to Mexico to visit her ne'er-do-well father. John warns her of heading down there, as he cares for her safety.
The two share a special bond, John helps Yvette's character, Gabrielle, get through college because he admires the young woman's go-get-'em attitude and positivity. Things take a turn for the worse once she enters Mexico and is immediately kidnapped by a gang of lurid sex traffickers. And then the picture becomes a version of Taken, but set in Mexico.
Some critics of the film lamented the pace of Last Blood as being "molasses" slow, and focusing too much on Gabrielle's "helplessness."
The movie's directed by Adrian Grunberg, who also directed the excellent, fast-paced, violent, and clever Get the Gringo starring Mel Gibson, which would've gotten a wide theatrical release had it not been for this unfortunate voicemail of Mel's that made the rounds on the internet.
Rambo: Last Blood spoilers:
The movie also receives further criticism for playing on provincial fears of the U.S.'s neighbors in Mexico, and "trudging" along until the movie's conclusion.
John Rambo manages to trick a gang of cartel members to coming back to his ranch, which is filled with all sorts of surprise instruments of pain and destruction. The entire time Rambo lays waste to the baddies he plays The Doors' "Five to One" to boot, all while dressed like a cowboy and keeping his composure the entire time. He ultimately saves the day and gets Gabrielle back to her home in Arizona.
How does Yvette Monreal feel about Rambo: Last Blood?
The young actress says she felt like the role was a natural fit in a recent interview, saying: "I was raised with a very traditional Mexican mom so I can relate to Gabrielle a lot. The family is very strict and my family, my upbringing growing up was very strict. I wasn’t allowed to date. I wasn’t allowed to go out past five o’clock. I think I had to go straight home so my upbringing was very strict."
She also says she had a Rambo figure of her own in her life, you know, minus the retribution for kidnapping and all that: "I feel like that’s why my character was so relatable but I did have a stepfather who it was easier for me to go to. We did things together. We explored caves together, things of that nature so I feel like it was really relatable to this movie."
The first time the young actress met Stallone was at their audition: "I had to do a chemistry read. It was me against two other girls and when I first walked in, I was reading with someone else but I guess it wasn’t up to par so he jumped in. He started reading with me the scenes in the movie and I wasn’t really nervous at first. I felt very comfortable. It felt really mellow in the room."
The film comes out Sept. 20. Are you down to see the final chapter in the Rambo series? Or are four flicks enough for you?