Picks and Pans Review: Rambo Iii

updated 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This movie isn't just big; it's the biggest—at $63 million, the most expensive film in Hollywood history. (The nine runners-up, according to Variety, are: Annie—$51.5 million; Cotton Club—$51 million; Inchon—$46 million; Ishtar—$45 million; Cleopatra—$44 million; the original Star Trek—$42 million; Dune—$42 million; Legal Eagles—$38 million and Heaven's Gate—$36 million. Any of those on your list of all-time favorites?) For starters, a reported $20 million of the budget went to Sylvester Stallone in salary. Does he earn it? Well, the Stallone body has never looked more pumped up. Word is Stallone rose early every day to exercise with his trainer for 90 minutes. Reports are not yet available on who worked with him on pumping up his ego, but no movie in memory can boast more self-adoring close-ups. The screenplay by Sheldon Lettich, a Marine Corps combat vet, and—surprise—Stallone, picks up Rambo living in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. You heard right. Rambo is seeking peace of mind. But wait. Rambo is needed in Afghanistan (filming was done in Israel and the Arizona desert). His father figure, Colonel Trautman, once again played by Richard Crenna, has been captured by the Russians during a Soviet surprise attack on the Afghanistan border. So our hero goes in and starts spouting Ramboisms: "No rescue team, just me"; "I'm your worst nightmare"; and—in answer to the statement "This is not your war"—"It is now." What's left to say? Rambo helps the freedom fighters mow down the enemy on foot, horseback, tank and helicopter, using his hands, his feet, a knife, a gun, a bow, a bomb or whatever's handy. Despite the odds, no one does much damage to our hero. "Who does he think he is, God?" asks one of the Russian pigs (that's how they're all played; so much for glasnost). "No," answers Crenna, "God would show mercy. He won't." Ah, so that's the difference. If you're not put off by Stallone's rampaging megalomania, deplorably dumb dialogue, relentless explosions and the travesty this movie makes of the real-life political tragedy in Afghanistan, you may enjoy watching $63 million blow up before your eyes. But it's hard to laugh off the waste of Rambo III by saying "It's only money." Actually, it's a shame. (R)

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