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Dear Netflix: I love you, but sometimes you suck -- Taking Lives & Rambo

This weekend I sat down with my anxiously anticipated Netflix movies, Taking Lives and Rambo. I started with Taking Lives because I have what might be an unhealthy fixation on Angelina Jolie. Besides, as we are all aware, I loves me some crime movie. Unfortunately, I missed the entire first two scenes (the ones I imagine must have set up the whole plot and would have given me vital clues to the mystery) due to a scratch on the DVD. That was okay though, because I actually often prefer to start a movie after the intial exposition--I'm just as happy to leap in at about the 10 minute mark and figure out what's going on, rather than having it all spoon-fed to me. Anyway, the movie was not terrible, though I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone I know. Angelina was all right in her part, but it's not anything that challenged her in any way, thus I don't think she was all that interested. I will admit that I don't like Ethan Hawke, so that was another strike against the movie. The plot was interesting enough, although I think they showed their hand a little bit early. Maybe it's just because I'm so clever, but I knew what was going on long before they decided to officially announce it, and by then the characters didn't even look surprised. There were some good thriller moments, particularly one in a basement bedroom that actually had me leaping off the couch shrieking. Of course, right at the bloody climax we hit another field of scratches, so I didn't get to see the end of the damn thing. I checked out the ending on though and discovered that I didn't really miss anything. If you want to see Angelina in a crime thriller, I think you're much better off with The Bone Collector, wherein she plays the headstrong rookie cop assistant to Denzel Washington's quadriplegic profiling pro.

I also finally got around to watching Rambo. It's one of those movies that gets a lot of references (any time anyone at a party puts his tie around his head, there is bound to be at least one Rambo joke) but that very few people I know have actually SEEN. The problem with Rambo in this day and age (in my opinion) is that it's very seriously dated. I'm sure in the late 70s/early 80s when it was made, the idea of a soldier gone berzerk with PTSD was a novel idea. However now PTSD is so commonly referred to (though I'd hesitate to say better understood) in our culture that it's not nearly as shocking. The other issue is that people of my age don't really understand what life was like for returning soldiers in that era. We are used to there being a surplus of "support" (sure, they have trouble finding jobs and getting the medical care they need, but think how many magnetic yellow ribbons you've seen on cars) for returning troops--the idea that servicemen at the time were spit on and protested when they returned from Vietnam is unthinkable to us. We may know intellectually that it happened, but we are unfamiliar with a world where it could. Plus, as Rambo ran through the woods impaling people and threatening them with knives and blowing stuff up, I kind of sided with the police in the idea that he was quite a danger to himself and others who needed catching. I never really identified with him as an anti-hero, and rather thought to myself "Hey, that guy belongs in a mental hospital." I will say it was a pretty good role for Stallone, since except for his final monologue he only utters about 5 sentences in the entire movie. The final monologue, though, with all the crying, came dangerously close to cheesy territory. I think it's lucky the guy who played the Colonel was so good, otherwise that scene could have been a disaster. The villains were played pretty well--Brian Dennehy is no slouch. Seeing David Caruso as the young, idealistic cop who wasn't sure about their treatment of Rambo gave me a chuckle--I kept waiting for him to dramatically pause to put on/take off his sunglasses...sadly, it rained the whole time so no need for sunglasses. Over all, I'd recommend this, if only so that you can understand the references in things like The Simpsons.


Johnny Burnham said…
This is so crazy because I also just watched RAMBO and got it from Netflix! He is such a horrible actor, isn't he? It was great to see a young Caruso though. He was my fav.

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