“Rambo” – Susan Granger reviews

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Sylvester Stallone’s claim to fame is the iconic characters of “Rocky” and “Rambo,” and he doesn’t tire of recycling both of them.

“When you’re pushed, killin’ is as easy as breathin’,” growls ex-Green Beret John Rambo, who’s been living as a recluse in northern Thailand, where he runs a motor boat and wrangles poisonous snakes on the Salween River near the Burma border, where a long-running civil war still rages. Maybe he has clandestine meetings with Capt. Willard from “Apocalypse Now.” Who knows?

Then a group of Colorado human rights missionaries wamts to rent his boat to transport medical supplies and Bibles upriver to struggling Karen villagers; the Burmese military has strewn landmines along the roads.

“Are you taking guns?” Rambo inquires. Of course not! “Then you’ll change nothing.”

Rambo turns them down, but the group’s only woman, Sarah (Julie Benz of “Dexter”), convinces him to change his mind.

Yet after he drops them off at their destination, they’re ambushed and taken prisoner by sadistic Burmese soldiers. Of course, the church’s pastor (Ken Howard) relies on Rambo to execute a rescue mission. Reluctantly, the bandana-wearing renegade rounds up a squad of nasty mercenaries – and then the loud, violent, relentless carnage begins, taking the R-rating to its utmost, stupefying limits.

Claiming that he devised this fourth installment with geopolitical relevance – namely, to draw attention to the need for aid in war-torn Burma (Myanmar) – writer/director/actor Stallone has clearly made a vanity project. He’s even included a flashback sequence for those who managed to miss his first three Rambo excursions; seeing Richard Crenna again was an unexpected bonus.

While Stallone’s beefcake is a brawny testament to steroids, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Rambo” is a graphic, blood-drenched 2. Stay out of the jungle!

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.