But through its strange structure and horrific violence, Rambo goes even further. It depicts war as something "in our blood," as Rambo himself puts it. There’s no higher thought or political virtue involved, just the mundane, mindless drive to murder people. By portraying John Rambo as a living weapon that, once activated, cannot be deactivated, the film makes good on its thesis statement: "When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing." Here, violence rages out of control the moment a point of no return is passed, and it makes you wonder, "Have we all passed the point of no return?"
In Rambo, Stallone reexamines one of his signature characters and unearths the monster within. This terrifying angel of death is the same person we cheered for as he refought Vietnam, then rebooted it in Afghanistan; the nightmares of slaughter and madness that drove him to destroy a small town have found an avatar in the man himself. It shows a filmmaker, and a character, grappling with the true nature of violence and war in a way that no similar franchise has ever been willing to do, in a country that has yet to do it. Ten years after the fact, it's lost none of its strange, disturbing power.