October 18, 2009

I Admit It: I Watched 'Rambo' Last Night

But only (in general) during commercial interludes following Yankees gameplay.

Why did I do this? Well, I knew Rambo--the 2008 Sylvester Stallone-directed CGI squibfest, not the, uh, "classic" 1985 version--would be too ludicrous for me to care about missing certain segments during the Yankees-Angels game...making the film perfect for post-midnight viewing. I also knew I wouldn't expend any brain cells needed to concentrate on the strategies exhibited by Halos manager Mike Scioscia and Bronx Bombers skipper Joe Girardi.

Boy, was I right. And how.

I can't say I was disappointed by the movie--especially because I had such low expectations (which were fulfilled)--but I was aggrieved at one thing in particular: the sheer laziness of the flick. It was almost proudly derivative, "borrowing" elements from movies ranging from The Seven Samurai to The Dirty Dozen. Yet the most egregious affront was the Peckinpah-esque body count, a blood cell buildup that seemed to take its cue from the orgiastic finale of The Wild Bunch...though without the contextual ideology that made the latter film so powerful. As extra after extra in Rambo got his head blown off by the eponymous, stone-faced Stallone character, I had to wonder why Sly felt like viewers should see this. To become aghast at the horrors of war? To admire the technical expertise of the special-effects team behind all this splatter?

Or to relish, without conscience, death--presented in great detail--on the ruby screen?

Sadly, the indiscriminate carnage points to the latter. There was no comment here, no subtext, a la The Wild Bunch. It was just violence. Years ago, that might've been the exact criticism levied against Peckinpah, with the suggestion that his style glorified such mayhem. But Peckinpah's films had a strangely intellectual bent underneath all the machismo, and The Wild Bunch's (mostly) unsavory characters had a loyalty and ennui that still got us involved...and made us care.

In Rambo, it was just bloodshed. Without a purpose.

Good thing I stayed up to finish the Yankees game. Otherwise, I might've been dreaming about bad filmmaking rather than good playmaking.

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