Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rambo - Violence at its Worst

I was recently browsing cable channels and seemed to stop at a Showtime presentation of Rambo, the newest film in the famed series by actor Sylvester Stallone. While I am not a huge fan of Rambo, there was nothing else on and I seemed to be intrigued by the concept of the return of Rambo after all these years. First Blood was a movie I liked very much as a child and enjoyed the rustic, Americana quality of the film that introduced Rambo to the world. I found myself laughing hysterically while watching the current film - not so much that Sly Stallone is too old for such a hardened role but the nonsensical plotline and lack of dialogue or coherency. The movie seemed to me like a psychological window into the mind of Rambo - as the violence ripped across the screen with deafening intensity that greatly defines the legacy of Rambo to many fans. Then with one sudden blow when a combatant viciously stabs another, I realized that the violence was deliberate - in a moment of clarity, I understood that the violence was undue, extreme, repugnant and vile. For the latter half of the movie, the violence seemed to erupt like Vesuvius unleashing terrible clouds of hate and despotism on a grand, Hollywood scale. I was quite taken aback and shocked by the breadth and totality of the violence displayed with such bravado and relentlessness. In one scene, Rambo kills someone with his bare hands - ripping out the man's larynx in a gross and bloodied display. Arrows pierce through the eyes and skulls of enemy combatants. Women are stripped naked and the citizens of Thailand are behaving lesser than animals - prisoners are kept in cages or are beaten or threatened with execution style murder, prostitutes are begging for their lives as drunken soldiers are beating and harrassing them - then, Rambo arrives and saves the day but not with more undue violence as bombs blow up bodies to smithereens and larger bombs level entire villages, destroying and defacing the natural habitat of the Burmese jungle. Rambo's image is tarnished - the representative of America abroad - the cool, collected and highly talented Commando that can rescue POW's singlehandedly but in the face of a ruthless army does not seem to stand a chance - further, belittling the image of the American soldier abroad. But the enemy is no better - there are no subtitles when the Burmese generals speak so they are dehumanized as a people and we accept that they are scoundrels - most are depicted as tyrants, womanizers, bandits and criminals with no cultural conscience or moral standards. The rules of engagement that are common for any war are simply non-existent and the viewer is left wondering why they are even watching such senseless violence. Has Hollywood stooped so low? Has Hollywood become so gluttonous and self-seeking that it cannot draw a line in the sand? Has Hollywood lost all respect for brilliant actors such as Sylvester Stallone who is an icon of American cinema? As a filmmaker myself, I cringed at such a low and abased representation of a Hollywood legend on screen. This film should be banned. It is despicable by all standards. It makes me even more concerned that Sly Stallone himself directed this film . . . I just can't see how it may promote a good, proud or positive feeling among any moviegoer.

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