Richard’s Year of Movies — Rambo: First Blood Part II

I almost didn’t count this one because I watched it on AMC, or, as I call it, Assorted Mediocre Cinema.  They used to be a pretty good channel waaaaay back in the beginning, but I guess Turner Classic Movies dumped something in the drinking water over there that makes them think Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is a classic.  Mad Men and Breaking Bad earn them a little bit of credit, but LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE.  On a channel with the word “classic” in its name.  Besides, any goodwill you might earn from airing Breaking Bad is squandered when you slap an ad for it that takes up a quarter of the screen over one of the supposed classics you’re showing.  It’s like a bumper sticker for the Louvre cafe on the Mona Lisa.  If the Mona Lisa was painted on the side of a van.

Anyway, I’d better hurry up and finish this because Rambo has pretty much killed everyone in this movie and may be moving on to me soon.  I remember seeing this with a bunch of friends in high school (none of whom were old enough to be getting in to see it, but who got in anyway), and it’s definitely the kind of thing a 16-year old would find pretty awesome.  We kept a running body count as we watched, which I’m pretty sure ticked off everyone around us.  Not because we were ruining the film, but because we were probably throwing off their own counts.

Looking at it now, it still has it’s charms, in a sort of 1980s-America-kicks-ass kind of way,  Stallone’s big speech at the end about what Vietnam vets want from their country would be pretty funny if he wasn’t so damn earnest about it.  His Adam’s apple does some damn fine acting in that scene, which is appropriate, because it’s Stallone’s body that’s the real star here.  I mean, if I’d gone from the somewhat doughy build he had in Rocky to how he looks here, I’d be running around shirtless in church, let alone on screen.

Really, this film is all about us taking out all our Cold War frustrations.  We get to win the war we didn’t win (Vietnam)  and fight the war we never got to (with the Soviets).  Along the way, stuff gets blown up real good, be it by bullet, missile, explosive arrow, or Stallone’s pecs.

It just makes me wish that something else had been going on beneath the surface, some sort of subtext to get to the core of Rambo’s being.  There are psychological depths to be plumbed here, and the deft touch of

which Stallone is capable would have infinitely been better used had some of the political and sociological ramifications of the character been more thoroughly explored.  Rambo is a metaphor for post-Watergate impotence in America, the helplessness against the system, the internal repression of…

You bastards.

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