After Rocky Balboa started Stallone on a comeback trail, he sought to revisit John Rambo. This seemed a bit more far fetched and almost funny. And yet, choosing to Direct John Rambo for the first time, Stallone managed to marry the different tones of the franchise. Not only did it work? Rambo is a pretty solid action movie.
Opening with Rambo yet again in a self imposed exile (this time in Thailand). He is approached by some missionaries who are looking to get some associates out of Burma. Initially he refuses, but when they try without him, he ends up being unable to ignore them.
Stallone is so buff in this film (20 years after Rambo III) it almost challenges the very serious tone of the film. He was muscular in the previous films, here he is immense. But Stallone really brings back the shattered John Rambo who is struggling to find peace. And it is quite well done.
This is an ultra violent film, to the point the previous films seem somewhat soft. Rambo still manages to be a one man army, blowing through the opposition with little effective resistance. And yet, in spite of the extensive violence, Stallone give us a Rambo to root for. He manages to do so in a way that makes you forget just how implausible his actions are, instead you can sit back and just follow Rambo on his adventure, hope he saves the missionaries and gets away. The film mostly ignores the two prior sequels (as Rocky Balboa did with the Rocky films) and works nicely as a direct sequel to First Blood.