Friday, December 17, 2010

First Blood Review

First Blood is not so much an action movie as it is a sort of survival horror for the police who want to chase down Rambo after he enters a town and does absolutely nothing. These overzealous cops manage to trigger Rambo's memories of Vietnam and afterward he hides in the mountains and decimates the local police force, taking care not to actually kill any of them but merely injure them severely. In fact during the entire movie only one person dies, only indirectly due to Rambo.

It is relatively believable that the best special forces soldier could probably run circles around local cops and national guardsmen, so it is not like the later rambo movies where he magically survives getting shot at by 50 people and still manages to kill all of them. There may be some unrealistic portions but in general the film is quite different than its sequels.

The later movies are difficult to take seriously but this one evokes much more effective themes about war and how being a competent soldier was/is a thankless job in the current United States. Vietnam veterans weren't treated with much compassion and while Iraq veterans presumably are I don't think this is universal. Regardless of political viewpoint I still think soldiers deserve to not be tossed in jail randomly and to be treated better when they go nuts and maim and injure entire police forces. The Colonel in this movie would certainly agree. Speaking of which they had several superior actors lined up to play the Colonel but wound up with the esteemed Richard Crenna, whom you've no doubt never heard of. He does a functional job as the colonel but it would be interesting to see this movie if it had more than a couple of great actors.

The biggest strength of the movie is the camerawork, this is pre CGI of course so almost every shot is from a real location. You get to see much of the Washington countryside as Rambo ascends a mountain to flee from the overzealous police. While the film eventually settles in relatively mundane locales for the first hour and 10 minutes the locations are just as impressive as the action, which again comes in quick bursts.

The book about this movie has Rambo killing dozens of police officers before dying in the end, but Sylvester Stallone refused to take the part unless he was depicted as heroic. Hence he kills almost no one and is only arrested at the end, ready to line up for the enormously successful sequel a few years later. This film is the strongest of the Rambo movies but still has some apparent flaws that prevent it from being a masterpiece.

Final Grade: 8/10

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