This appreciation of death is one of the film’s dominant themes. When the medical missionaries realize how difficult it is to make a dent in something as unruly and complex as the Burmese civil war, their outlook changes from sacrifice to survival. In the process, the missionaries lose their innocence, purity, and sanity. Meanwhile, the only thing they gain is a traumatic experience. What will those who survive report to their church when they return? Perhaps, the description of running through a corpse-laden terrain as gunfire takes the life of the person running beside you?
With this depiction in mind, how is it that the good guys never get pumped full of friendly fire as thousands of bullets rip through the air? With Rambo, fans must look beyond the unlikely, the cheap white text used on the subtitles and credits, and the fact that Jerry Goldsmith (composer) and Richard Crenna (Col. Sam Trautman) are not involved due to cancer. What’s most important is that Stallone traverses generations and represents an accurate representation of what John would be like two decades after Afghanistan.
There is no question that Stallone can still act, write, and direct; he has proved all three most recently with Rocky Balboa and Rambo. The question is however: can Stallone act, write, or direct a character that he hasn’t previously played? Not including Stallone’s 1983 effort Staying Alive, the answer will come next year in his chronicle of the life and death of Edgar Allan Poe. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open.