In contrast to my other posts about movies that get worse every time I see them, this movie always delivers. Even Mrs Muttrox agreed, and she is not overly supportive of action movies.
Keys to success:
1) Stallone is ripped. Let’s face it, he looks cool, and not in a Rocky III oily kind of way
2) No love interest. Except guns maybe.
3) Morally ambiguous characters. The “bad guy” is not very bad, the “good guy” is not very good. They are both complex characters — the conflict is more of the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, and things get worse.
4) Realistic violence. One bullet does not blow up a Vietnamese village, Rambo does not free Afghanistan by himself or any craziness like that. Motorcycles swerve, rocks hurt, wounds need to heal, etc. That’s not to say it’s perfectly realistic, but it’s a good deal more than most action movies.
5) Very little actual violence. The conflict is not direct most of the time. There is suspense and tension most of the time. Desperation, chase scenes. That’s not to say there is no violence, just not as much as you would think.
6) Brian Denehy. He’s awesome. I don’t care if he lied about his military service*, he’s a great actor, and perfect for this role.
A lot of this comes because it’s based on a real novel, where it’s hard to get away with the same stuff action movies get away with.
There’s probably more too, but you get the point. First Blood rocks!!
* I just finished The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. This is an excellent read, and deserving of it’s own post at some point. It cites the work of Burkett in debunking many of those who falsely claimed Vietnam military action, including Brian Denehy. I can’t find any other links to this research. On the one hand, it’s a book about truth, it’s hard to believe that it would be a hoax. On the other hand, Burkett was one of the folks who launched the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, which was itself so riddled with lies I have a hard time believing it’s core assertions.
…ok, I’m spelling Dennehy’s name wrong. Now I can search the web a bit.
It’s hard to tell if these are more links to Burkett’s work, but since they refernce specific events (an apology in 1999 after winning Best Actor), I’m going to say Burkett’s on the up and up.