RAMBO (dir. Sylvester Stallone, scrs. Stallone & Art Monterastelli)
I've been putting off doing any kind of 2007 year-end roundup until I've caught up with the 3 or 4 films still on my to-see list. If they would stop trying to cram everything worthwhile into the last six weeks of the year, I wouldn't be having this problem.
As far as the cinema of 2008 goes, however, a new high watermark has already been set, and its name is... RAMBO. John Rambo.
Seriously. It's impossible for me to rate Sly's new magnum opus according to any highfalutin' metric of quality, but man, it was kind of awesome. He devotes the first ten or so minutes of the film to establishing a flimsy pretext for killing everybody, and then spends the remainder of the film killing everybody. Apart from the rather perfunctory newsreel of Burmese atrocities that opens the film, Rambo doesn't even pretend to be a social justice picture like its First Blood predecessors did. It's about an incredibly weathered and bitter-looking Stallone blasting roughly half the population of Burma into tiny meat chunks. I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen: throats are torn out, heads are cut off, bodies are blown apart by grenades, arrows pierce brains, etc. What's more, unlike some middlebrow Saving Private Ryan type flicks which abruptly cut away from such grotesquerie, Stallone is adamant that the audience sees every single bit of viscera in loving, prolonged detail. If it were any further over the top it would be a Troma film. The carnage is such that anyone tempted to take Rambo seriously will have abandoned that idea long before the credits roll (and judging by the snickering, gleeful applause with which the opening credits were greeted in my theatre, the film's target demographic knows exactly what it is getting itself into.)
SPOILER-ISH: The best part is that after roughly an hour of non-stop murder, the film just tacks on a 15-seconds-long coda of J. Ram returning to America and walking up some Mellencamp-esque country road, and then has the good sense to end. Roll credits. I mean, he basically killed everyone in the country - what else does Stallone need to show you? It ain't The Seventh Seal, but I had fun. B+