Brian Lowry‘s 5.27 Variety piece about old franchises refusing to die (Indy, Rocky, Rambo, John McLane) says that in “this latest flurry of comebacks, all these heroes can still party (and punch) like it’s 1989.”
But he’s doing a disservice, I feel, to Sylvester Stallone‘s recent Rambo flick since it’s the only aging action-hero franchise to deliver a truly fresh charge. The genius of this sleazy Southeast Asian actioner was to reinvent and reinvigorate an old formula by submitting to a kind of deranged self-parody. The key is that it was so unabashedly nutso — to me it was only a couple of steps removed from being an outright comedy — that it didn’t feel like a here-we-go-againer.
“It’s so relentlessly blunt, so absurdly violent in a ’70s exploitation vein, so visceral and depraved and elbow-deep in jungle blood & guts that I loved it,” I wrote on 1.27.08. “Rambo ‘works’ in its own deranged way. It’s like an ultra-violent half-time show at the Super Bowl. It’s shit, of course, but it’s fast, fun and agreeably grotesque.”
As Stallone said to a Scottish radio interviewer earlier this year, “What do you mean one of the most violent movies of all time? It is the most violent movie of all time!”