Rambo III (1988)

(Second viewing, On TV, September 2017) The four-movie Rambo series may be all about an American icon, but it’s fascinating to see, peering closer, that all four movies have their own particular aesthetics. The first film is a gritty post-Vietnam drama about PTSD. The second in an all-out revenge fantasy. The fourth is a reprehensible pile of gory grittiness without much of a point. The third … is just plain dull. Heading to Afghanistan to help the soon-to-be Taliban in fighting the Soviet Empire, Rambo III goes through the motions of an eighties action movie without doing much more than the required minimum. The first half of the film has a mildly compelling arc in bringing back Rambo to the battlefield (so much so that it would form the backbone of the Hot Shots Part Deux parody), but the film’s second half loses itself in well-worn action movie tropes, although the ending sequence finally has some energy in it. It doesn’t make for a very good third entry in the series. While Rambo III’s troubled production may account for some of the lack of focus, the lack of excitement does doom the film to mediocrity—if Sylvester Stallone and the Rambo series weren’t linked to this film, it would be essentially forgotten today. 

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