Monday, January 28, 2008

movie review--rambo--very un-pc

First, a note of caution for any who may want or need to know--"Rambo" is not a nice movie. There are plenty of scenes of disturbing activities, cursing, and violence. I'm not going into details, but if your senstive to such things, it's not a movie for you. If you can handle those things, though, it's a movie well worth watching.

This movie was about as anti-PC as I've ever seen, but it does so not so much in a gratuitously insulting way, but more in a brutally in-your-face kind of way.

We are introduced right off to a small group of missionaries who have traveled to Thailand in order to take some medicines and I think Bibles to Burma. Rambo has a boat, and is eventually talked into taking them there.

Almost right after arriving, things go downhill. The village they are at is attacked by some kind of militia, the villagers massacred, and some of the missionaries taken captive. The pastor of their church hires some mercenaries and Rambo takes them back upriver, then joins them, and the rescue is under way.

I don't think the movie wallowed in its violence, but it was there, and there is plenty of it. Nor does it sanitize it. I could say that it is "gory", but in a different way then one might use that same word to describe, for example, some kinds of horror movies.

It would be difficult to call it a movie about faith, though it was there. In the scene where the missionaries have reached the village and before it is attacked, there are images of them providing medical help and teaching the Bible to them.

On a more ironic note, there is the one rather loud mercenary who berates people like the missionaries and even tells the one that it was them and not God who had rescued them, while a bit later he insults the militia leader by referring to him as "godless".

One of the more startling things about the movie is the change in the leader of the band of missionaries. He starts as a kind of stand-offish sort, not a bad sort but obviously not comfortable dealing with rough sorts like John Rambo has become, and when Rambo has to kill some pirates to keep them from taking the group's lone woman, he tries to take a form a moral "high road" about how it's never right to kill. Then, at the final big battle, to try to protect one of the rescuers, he himself tackles one of the attackers and even takes a rock to the man's head several times.

I suppose that's one of the movie's messages, that any kind of extreme non-violence position will not hold up in all situations. We get a hint of such a compromise when the pastor shows up at Rambo's boat saying he's hired mercernaries to rescue his people. If we assume that the leader got his views from the pastor, then the change in mind is quite high-reaching.

That is, maybe, a sort of comment on the difference between the ethical stances of those who sit in relative safety and judging whether any action X is right or wrong and people making those decision under fire, whether literally or figuratively. That it's one thing to speculate about non-violence in a non-violent society, but another when you've just watched a whole village filled with innocent unarmed people being wiped out almost for sport.

Of course, things aren't that simple. The leader's first statement to Rambo about "Taking life is never right", in regards to what happened with the pirates, is something that isn't necessarily biblical. We aren't given any hint of the thought process concerning his change of mind, maybe he didn't think much about it, maybe it was only a "heat of battle" kind of decision.

Though as well, Rambo's early statement about if the group wasn't taking weapons then they weren't helping the situation isn't very good, either.

The movie ends on a mostly positive note. A couple of the missionaries are rescued, and John Rambo leaves his dreary life and returns to his home.

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