Sunday, September 27, 2009
Review: First Blood
Synopsis: When a mentally traumatized Vietnam war vet is abused by a small town's police force, he begins a one man war with it.
Review: A lot of people would likely classify this film as an "action movie." While there is certainly some great action sequences to be found here, it is really so much more than that. "First Blood" is something more than the typical shoot 'em up action epic, as it has the undertones of some very definite political themes and societal messages that most mere "action movies" never do.
Aside from Rocky Balboa, John J. Rambo is without question the most iconic character in Sylvester Stallone's long career. And of the two, he is certainly the more emotionally complex. A man of deep loyalties and convictions, he is also easily able to shun aside the moralities of the supposed civilized world and, when provoked, become little more than a killing machine. It is this duality of a man who simply wants a quiet place for himself in the world, yet who is capable of committing some of the most outrageous acts of violence ever seen, that is what make the character so compelling.
But it isn't simply Sly's performance as Rambo that gives the film such resonance. Equally adding the this potent dramatic brew are veteran actors Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna. While Sly spends most of the film running through forests and slogging through tunnels, the interaction between Dennehy and Crenna's characters brilliantly encapsulate the clash of political views at the story's core.
As noted the action scenes are very well done here. They almost make you believe that Rambo could single-handedly take down an entire town. They never go too far, or become too outlandish, with things. They keep it feeling just realistic enough to add the much needed tension for the inevitable showdown at the film's end. Adding to this is the stellar musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, which is just the perfect compliment to the story unfolding. It never distracts you from what's occurring on screen and, in fact, enhances the emotions of the situations even more. Just what any good score should do.
What more can be said about this film, that hasn't already been said a thousand times before? The film would create a cultural icon that would embody the decade of the 80's, as well as inspire sequel films for over 20 years. But while those sequels would easily up the ante in terms of non-stop action, they would never attain the same level of emotional drama that this film does. "First Blood" was a film that asked a lot of hard questions about a war, and it's aftermath, that had no easy answers. And that, above all else, is what makes it more than merely "another 80's action movie." It makes it a classic!
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 4)