Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Oughts: Number 4

4. Rambo

If your nose wasn't turned up at my list yet, I bet it is now. Yep, Rambo is one of my favorite movies of the past decade. Beyond the surface-level reasons that a rad dude would like this movie "its wicked frickin gory, dude!", lurks possibly the most insane anti-war film ever made. Its perfect, when you think about it. The tail end of 8 years of terrible government, war at home and abroad, the shadowy aftermath of 9-11, where the country's deepest fears and darkest impulses were lived out day to day on a global stage. The past decade has been a non-stop war. So, here comes Rambo to save the day. Pickup trucks with American flag stickers on their bumpers jammed the multiplexes to see John Rambo defeat Old Glory's enemies, just like he did in the Reagan era. The 2008 Rambo was different, however. Stallone went completely batshit insane on growth hormones and made one of the most unrelenting, dark, and horrific action films ever. If you feel good about war after you see this movie, you have some serious problems. When I saw this film in the theater, the tension was palpable. There were older guys there, who looked like Nam veterans, there were dumb kids, and there were my friends and I. We all thought we'd be in for a jolly old over the top romp. The level of viciousness, the completely disgusting and terrible stuff on display in this film made me really uneasy. A little part of me wanted to have fun with the film, but I was absolutely revolted and sickened by the actions of the bad guys, the 'Burmese' army. Burma is now known as Myanmar, but maybe Stallone kept the old name to avoid a lawsuit, or something.

This isn't gore for gore's sake, either. Stallone filled this film with innocent people, women and children being butchered to show you what is really going on all over the world. If the big, bad U.S.A is all for what is right and good in this world, why aren't we trying to stop the genocide in Myanmar, or the Congo or anywhere else in the world where the only law is respect the man with the biggest gun? Fact is, if there is nothing that serves the wishes of the government and the economy, there is no reason for us to be the good guys. Stallone doesn't spell this out for the audience, but if you are a thinking person, this movie will stick with you and really make you think. I remember I couldn't sleep the night I saw it. The violence is so intense and sickening that it will haunt you.

Stallone really makes you hate the bad guys to the point where you are just really, really excited to see them get theirs. And, oh boy, do they ever. The aging Stallone, hulking around sullenly, is more menacing than he was back in the 80s and in the dark, rainy jungle, as he stalks his prey, the film almost becomes like a Friday The 13th movie with Rambo instead of Jason. I mean, he even machetes people. This movie is a work of pure whacked out, sick brilliance, and I think its the best and most effective anti-war movie I've ever seen. Its also one of the only truly great action movies of the past decade.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

I haven't seen this RAMBO but you know what movie surprised me? ROCKY BALBOA. Rather moving and sincere, I thought. Much more like the original than any of the roided-out sequels.