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Rambo First Blood - a review - 13

Genres: Action; adventure
My rating: 8/10

I'm sure I saw Rambo I around when it first came out but was young enough at that time that I barely remembered it, and decided a few months ago to revisit it. Although I'm a fan of action I settled on revisiting Rambo because of its endurance in popular culture and to see how much of what comes after Rambo cribs directly from the franchise.

There's a little bit of the Mary Sue in Rambo. When it gets revealed that he was a Green Beret, they talk about him like he's an untouchable deity. Which is to be expected when you want your singular protagonist capable of fending off a police force, even one from a small town.

The villain is simple. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because simple villains, and simple heroes, are more archetypes than they are people, and it's easier to take strong character stances with an archetype than it is with a character analogous to a real person, as real people tend to have a level of flexibility in their moral compass that would spoil a lot of straightforward narratives. The villain here hates Rambo because he thinks he's homeless, and that's all it takes.

The rest of the movie is what I've come to think of as pretty standard fare for an action movie but realize that what Rambo didn't invent outright for its franchise, it at the least refined into something that got picked up and used over and over, both for its own franchise and for other movies.

The interesting bit for me comes in almost at the very end, the last 15 minutes of the movie. Here there's a speech that Rambo gives where he opines on "the war", on how he and other soldiers were treated when they were killing people (like heroes) and how they were treated when they came back (being protested against and spitted on); he specifically uses an example of in the first being able to drive million dollar machines and in the latter, back home, not being able to hold down a job parking cars.

I didn't realize that PTSD, or at least its equivalent for when the movie came out, was being talked about in Rambo. I thought it was all just action, adventure, gunfights and the like. That was a great touch.


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