As I did on 1.27, L.A. Times contributor (and Christian Science Monitor critic) Peter Rainer saw Sylvester Stallone‘s Rambo with a mostly male paying audience, and detected an unusual current in the raucous whoops and yaw-haws that greeted every over-the-top killing.
“Could Rambo be the Tony Bennett of the new movie generation?,” Rainer asks. “His retro-ness has become his pedigree. Of course, in both his Rocky and Rambo incarnations, Stallone has always been blatantly retro. The Rocky movies draw heavily on Depression-era tropes; the Rambo narratives are positively primeval. (With his no-tech skills and half-Indian blood, Rambo is as elemental as Tarzan, if not as talkative.)
“Unlike other aging stars (such as Bruce Willis) attempting to revive their action franchises, Stallone, in Rambo, doesn’t try to tamp down the toll of the years. (He didn’t in Rocky Balboa either, which accounted for its sweetness and may have been the key to its commercial success.) Stallone is a bit like the latter-day John Wayne, who also put his gruff weariness on display.
“But Wayne, in films such as Rooster Cogburn, consciously cartoonized his own image, while Stallone in his Rambo mode is still playing it straight. And this squareness may be one reason why his audience still finds him authentic — a classic.”