JOHN RAMBO — the title of the extended cut — is an ultra-violent, unflinching nightmare. A nightmare…of my dreams!

It bears some hallmarks of a slasher film: Rambo initially functions like the typical gas station “sloothsayer” to a group of missionaries that fill-in for your average group of out-of-towners. They were warned not to go upriver; the backwoods folk don’t take to outsiders, or human life in general. Rambo also has the hulking savagery of a stalker-killer, only here he’s the good guy; slaughtering his way through a feral clan of villains who engage in every horrible thing you can imagine save feasting on human flesh.

Thematically this entry still engages in polemics, but this time around the titular character isn’t relating to US military geo-politics. Stallone and his co-writer do what the prior sequel did — find a conflict in the current news cycle and insert the character into it — but Rambo here is older, his views turned toward humanity and history as a whole. It doesn’t matter where or when, what uniform or cause, it always comes down to total dehumanization that only those on top and free of the mess benefit from. It’s cynical, but free of pretension the series dipped into after the original. JOHN RAMBO is nothing if not honest in intent.

Anyway, back to the insane violence! This movie has one foot planted in the “come and see” horror of a war zone, the other foot in action movie convention. It’s jarring to anyone looking for “popcorn entertainment”. It’s super fucked up, to put it plainly. However all the super-villainy builds to supremely cathartic retribution. These are the feral dogs of war, and they need to be put down.

JOHN RAMBO isn’t for everyone. You may need the sensibilities of a horror gore-hound to appreciate the levels of excess on display (hence my slasher analogy). An unconventional war/action/horror hybrid. It’s my favourite Rambo sequel, and the epilogue ends the character on the perfect note…until part 5 kinda fucked that up.

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