Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Rambo IV" is Deeper than it Surface: A Christian Review

Many folks will go into "Rambo" expecting an action film and, if critics are to be believed, a mediocre to poor movie experience. While horrendous, nihilistic films such as "No Country for Old Men" are lauded, Stallone's latest movie, daring to elicit images of faith and Christianity in a world gone wrong, is slammed.

True to form, this is a movie about the brutality and evil human beings are capable of; expect cursing, God's name called in vain, townspeople being killed in ethnic cleansing and sadistic games, local women being sexually assaulted (although the actual rapes are omitted) and a high body count as the rescue team / mercenaries clash with the Burmese Army, or SDPC.

As with the first three "Rambo" films, the fourth movie functions as a beacon to Western moviegoers to the plights of a people who are, for whatever reason, not receiving proper media attention. The first film was concerned with the treatment of returning Vietnam Veterans, the second film dealt with the possibility of American POWs in Vietnam, the third film was about Russia's War against Afghanistan, and the fourth film is about the systematic slaughter and relocation of various ethnic groups in Burma or Myanmar.

In the movie, appropriately, two theological camps are depicted:

While John J. Rambo, at the outset of the movie, seems atheistic, the mercenary commander (Graham McTavish) is openly so, famously saying to a Christian Missionary he is rescuing "God didn't save you, I did."

The Christian Missionaries, on the other hand, feel protestant yet speak to all Christian values, and this is important. At no time are any of them displayed as losing their faith, and the wife of the mission leader never casts an eye towards John Rambo over her husband, although she does attempt to reach him through words. The effect of this, you will have to see the film and wait for the ending.

The film is ultimately more complicated than its surface; it serves to educate through entertainment, without beating the viewer over the head as to its Christian message (which will appear subtle to non-Christians who don't know what to look for), but giving the viewer a thorough thrashing as to the harsh realities of war and abject cruelty of people over another, largely defenseless, group.

Do not take your children, but do watch this movie.

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