Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Kurtwood Smith, Marc de Jonge
Directed by: Peter MacDonald
Written by: Sylvester Stallone, Sheldon Lettich
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 42 min
In the third installment of the Rambo franchise, our hero takes on the entire Russian army in Afghanistan. Only this time, the formula is a little different in that Col. Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) actually gets his hands dirty for once! It was refreshing to see him take a break from his Rambo cheer-leading gig, though he still manages to get in a couple of cheesy lines here and there. I especially loved the line highlighting the differences between Rambo and God.
“No. God would have mercy. He won’t.”
Anyway, for the third film we leave the jungle and according to my research, end up in Israel, Yuma and Arizona, which all at one point or another double for the deserts in Afghanistan. Why not I guess, and wherever they shot the film the director of photography, John Stanier does a great job capturing the terrain.
Actually John Stainer and director Peter MacDonald are the main reasons this film works as well as it does. Since a quick scan of Peter MacDonalds IMDB page reveals an extensive career actually operating the camera. It made perfect sense then why I found the overall look of the film very polished, and the action very well filmed.
Rambo III in my opinion is a slight step up from the last installment in overall quality and action content. It does though start to let itself down in the last act. In an effort to step up the mayhem, the action gets ridiculous, and at the same time Rambo and Trautman start cracking jokes. Which might have been fine if the entire film was more tongue in cheek, but it wasn’t – so to me the levity at the end seemed out-of-place and a sign of a production running out of ideas and energy.
In 1988 Rambo 3 was deemed the most violent film ever made. By today’s standards it’s still pretty violent and certainly earns its R rating in that regard. If you want good old-fashioned mindless action then this is the movie for you.
This is really well shot and if a local theater were screening Rambo III, I suggest you take advantage. At home a HD viewing on a nice big TV is recommended. Watching this on a small laptop, tablet or even phone sized screen will reduce its impact.
At the beginning of the film there’s this big reveal shot as Stallone dramatically turns and faces the camera and glares at the audience for 10 very long seconds. I remember as a kid watching this being impressed somehow and I totally bought the melodrama. Now, it just cracks me up every single time!