The moment the plot for “Rambo: Last Blood” leaked you knew it was coming.
Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character battles a Mexican drug cartel after it kidnaps a young woman he considers like his own daughter.
Today’s woke film critics, and they are legion, won’t let screenwriters depict people of color as the bad guys. If you do, your film will get labeled as “racist” as quickly as possible.
There are exceptions -- the recent “John Wick” entry had Keanu Reeves battling an Asian foe to the death. Still, even innocuous movies like “Snatched” get shelled for casting minority actors as the villains.
So the notion that a fifth and final “Rambo” adventure focused on a Mexican drug cartel sealed the film’s critical fate. It didn’t help that franchise star Sylvester Stallone is considered right-leaning in some circles, or that his franchise epitomizes the pro-America Reagan era.
Those “flaws” are cropping up in the “Rambo: Last Blood” reviews, of course. The new film’s signature sin, though, is Trump-style “racism.”
The official Variety review calls the film a “cruel and ugly showcase of xenophobic carnage.”
“Screenwriters Matthew Cirulnick and Stallone adopt the racist view of Mexicans as murderers, drug dealers and rapists, devoid of cultural context or exceptions, beyond the “independent journalist” (Paz Vega) keeping tabs on their whereabouts.”
It’s a shame “Last Blood” concocted vicious Mexican cartels out of thin air of the purposes of this movie.
This critic also has the sads that these evil cartel types, who force innocents into sex trafficking, get their comeuppance.
Yes, but they deserve it, one might argue. This is the reductive one-man-against-the-world reasoning by which Rambo has always operated, and I don’t buy it.
Of course, vigilantes are often problematic to film critics, especially if they happen to be both white and male.
Suddenly, the infamous wall along the U.S.-Mexico border seems inadequate — less in containing the cartels than in protecting them from Rambo’s brand of vigilante justice.
A Trump reference in a film review? Who saw that coming?
Over at the similarly far-left Indiewire.com, their “Last Blood” review breaks out the dreaded “P” word: Problematic.
If only “Last Blood” had more to say about that beyond the jingoistic mishmash of dime-store sentimentality and half-hearted vengeance it shrugs into existence, bidding farewell to an action icon in the same grotesque terms that made him so problematic in the first place.
It, too, conjures the visage of Orange Man Bad because, well, it’s a movie review penned in 2019.
Transplanting the action to Arizona provides the natural setting for a border drama that plays into Trump-era fear-mongering, right down to its ominous shot of a border wall, as Rambo heads south in search of justice.
The real problem is depicting vile cartel killers in a negative light, we learn.
The bad guys are blunt, icy, and crude caricatures of cartel goons; they confirm all the biases Rambo needs to take them out.
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The IGN review follows a similar blueprint, including the stereotype accusations that ignore the people John Rambo loves the most now are … Mexicans.
The filmmakers have made Mexico seem like an infinite wasteland of crime and death, and most of the Latinx characters on screen are criminals or broad stereotypes. I understand that Rambo films have rarely been bastions of cultural togetherness, but in 2019, these broad stereotypes are offensive and dated and downright irresponsible.
The hard-left Uproxx actually recommends “Rambo: Last Blood” but with similar caveats. Come enjoy this “racist rape-revenge fantasy!”
“The only way it could be more transparent is if Stallone had growled “I. Am. The Wall!” in his best Judge Dredd voice … The subtext of it all, of course, is essentially the immigration version of the right-wing meme where gun owners dare libs to come take their assault rifles. “You rapist, murdering drug gangs want to cross the border? I’ve got some tunnels you can use.”
The film blog Blue Harvest Films warned us what would happen if the fifth “Rambo” film embraced the “wrong” political message.
So in many ways it makes sense if after nearly four decades, the Rambo saga comes to an end with a final film that also makes a statement about modern politics and society. The problem is that Rambo: Last Blood might be making the wrong statement.
Franchise star Stallone apparently missed that urgent blog entry.
Note: This story will likely be updated as similar reviews flood in.
UPDATE: Here are a few more reviews also playing the “racist” card. The Irish Times dubs the sequel “more than a bit racist.”
All the hoodlums are Mexican and the nice people from that country rely on a white saviour to rescue them from narco-tyranny.
Katie Walsh, the unabashedly woke syndicated columnist, broke out another ugly adjective to describe the film.
“Last Blood” is deeply, topically xenophobic. And while, obviously, the “Rambo” films aren’t exactly known for their international diplomacy, the hackneyed, poorly executed racial stereotypes and sexual violence to which Gabriella is subjected is just offensively lazy screenwriting.