Sylvester Stallone was born on July, 6th 1946. Donald Trump was only 22 days old at the time. By most accounts, this allows them to barely scrape past the threshold for being considered "Boomers". I bring this up because I'm not sure about the politics of this movie, conscious or otherwise.
Donald Trump has been very open about his feelings towards the country Mexico and her people. This movie seems to share some of his sentiments. The context in which Mexico is depicted in this movie isn't very flattering. Sylvester Stallone, on the other hand has been fairly vocal in his opposition to the types of fear-mongering politics that the President wraps himself in. Stallone was one of the writers of this movie, but I'm not sure how much of this movie represents his personal politics.
“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” - Donald Trump
There are only a few on screen shots of the Mexican-American border. But they really stand out in the current political and cultural climate. The whole atmosphere of this movie, in my mind, is inexorably intertwined with our current president and his xenophobic Mexican foreign policy. Did the producers decide to make Mexican crime gangs the action movie bad guys BECAUSE of the President's rhetoric? Did the producers decide to make Mexican crime gangs the action movie bad guys DESPITE the President's rhetoric? Is this an "honest" action movie with hollow bad-guy politics, or a well-timed political ad for "stronger borders" and a cautionary tale to warn us of the dangers of immigration from the south? If people truly believe that anyone can cross the border as easily as both Rambo and the bad guys do in this movie, then it’s understandable why some people might think we need to "build that wall".
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,”
- Donald Trump
But apparently we send OUR best: The legendary John Rambo has to go across the border to mutilate Mexican criminals. Teach them a lesson. Except, not all of them are criminals. Well, not all of them are the same TYPE of criminal. Some of them are just “Johns” in a brothel. Either way, OUR John, John Rambo, doesn’t split hairs. He doesn't differentiate. Nuance is for "lesser" men. They all get a claw hammer lodged in their skull in full view of everyone, including the camera. On the one hand, I WANT Rambo to teach these human traffickers a lesson. On the other hand, I don’t know how I feel about watching a 73 year old Caucasian man dismembering random Mexican people. There’s something really distasteful about it in our current social climate. Is it still considered "Historical Context" if it the analysis of the file revolves around a current controversy?
“I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall.”
- Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico
John Rambo didn’t build any walls, but he built many a death machine. Think of a hard metal object that can be embedded in someone's head or chest, and he probably makes a booby trap out of it in this film. To add insult to injury, he can’t let them JUST be impaled with steel rebar, he needs to LITERALLY blow their heads CLEAN OFF with a sawed off shotgun afterwards. A gratuitous exclamation point for this death poem of a movie.
Who is this old man? What happened to the young John Rambo, looking for his place in the world? He didn’t WANT to kill anyone. He wanted the violence to stop. He just wanted to find his quiet place in the world again, or rescue POWs, or help the people of Afghanistan fight off THE COMMUNISTS! Old Rambo doesn’t necessarily seem to even ENJOY all the overkill and gore, he just can't help himself. He really is a machine in this film. A mostly emotionless killing machine. No emotion, just death and gore. Splatter and clouds of pink mist. A deadly automation the US Special Forces forgot to turn off 44 years ago.
At one point, one of the traffickers (the one that looked like Mexican Jon Snow) mentions how “these women aren’t even human to us. Just objects with no value.” Apparently the movie feels the same way. For a movie centered around human trafficking, there are very few women in this movie. Not female human beings, there are a bunch of those “things” in this movie, but very few WOMEN. There are 2.5 female characters in this movie: The Matriarch, the young trafficking victim, and the reporter. All the other women in this movie are 1 dimensional props. I’m not certain most of them even had names.
Young men have fantasies about ravishing young women’s bodies with their “tools”. Fantasies of being lost in a moment of ecstasy, the primitive and pure physical pleasure of exploring a woman's body. Apparently, old men fantasize about ravishing the bodies of young men. The "tools" used are much more brutal, but the intensity is still the same. If the old man can’t get the “tool” ready to do the job, then he’ll just find another "tool" and another job.
That’s not the only way this movie possibly skirts the subject of impotence. This movie is very much about being helpless. Powerless. "We’re all helpless and vulnerable!"
"We need a man like John Rambo to protect us from the 'rapists and murderers' from Mexico!"
"We’re scared and afraid! We don’t feel like we can protect ourselves, we can’t get the job done, so we need a HARD man like John Rambo to fuck(up) those Mexicans."
“Give it to 'em John Rambo! Give it to ‘em GOOD!”
The original character of John Rambo was created by author David Morrell. In a recent Newsweek article he’s quoted as saying:
"I felt degraded and dehumanized after I left the theater. Instead of being soulful, this new movie lacks one. I felt I was less a human being for having seen it, and today that's an unfortunate message."
- David Morrell, Author of "First Blood"
I’d have to agree with him 100%. This movie was gross and gratuitous in more ways than one.