The One-Line Summary: A few decades after his battles in Afghanistan, John Rambo, living near the Burmese border as a snake hunter and water taxi driver, is called back into action for a humanitarian mission to help fight against a ruthless rogue military officer who is pillaging villages and taking boys for his army, but when the two guides who hire him and a group of missionaries are kidnapped, Rambo leads a small band of mercenaries into the jungles to get them back in this bloody sequel to the First Blood films.
The Two-Line Blurb: Returning to the successes of his past seems to be a popular line of work for Sylvester Stallone as he’s made a second career out of keeping old franchises alive but unlike Rocky Balboa, doesn’t manage to spin anything new out of old yarn. Exceedingly gory and celebratory in its gruesome violence, bodies (and body parts) are hurled about ad nauseam, while Rambo grunts and sneers without addressing anything about the growth of the character or how his life has changed, which Stallone wonderfully confronts with his famous boxing character.
The Three-Line Set-up: Lots of people are being killed and mistreated as Major Pa Tee Tint (Maung Maung Khin) and his cruel military forces sweep the country. Pastor Arthur Marsh (Ken Howard) is head of a small missionary who is trying to provide aid and spiritual relief for the burdened people, but finds his religion gives him nor his missionaries any reprieve as some are killed and others taken prisoner. Desperate for help, he hires mercenaries and asks Rambo to go find and rescue these innocent people.
The Four-Line Moment: Rambo’s experience in the jungles makes him a leader, and though there is some friction, the men follow. When they come upon a tiny village where some of Pa Tee Tint’s men are forcing locals to run back and forth through a rice paddy littered with mines and betting on who will survive, the men are shocked and take cover, seemingly unsure what do as the hapless villagers are either going to get shot if they don’t cross the small paddy or explode if they do. In comes Rambo with his famous compound bow and, one-by-one takes all the maniacal bad guys out. When it’s over and the villagers scurry free, he chastises the men for inaction and threatens Lewis (Graham McTavish) with an arrow, motiving the men to live for nothing or die for something, a message that is delivered with much bravado but wholly lost in a film that learns nothing from it.
The Five-Word Review: First Blood is still best.