Summary Judgment: 'Rambo' is Almost 'Untraceable'

Is Rambo too old to be fighting in Burma? Mark Jordan Legan tells us what the critics are saying about the iconic fight flick, Untraceable and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX COHEN, host:

No UFOs, at least, that we know of in the new movies this weekend. But "Rambo" makes a big return. Yes, Sly Stallone is back in action, as if his "Rocky" comeback weren't enough. This time Rambo is rescuing missionaries in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. The other big flick in theaters this weekend features Diane Lane chasing a cyber-murderer.

Here with a roundup of these films and more is Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate.com): If you can believe beautiful Diane Lane as an FBI agent and that a serial killer is murdering people on his own Web site, then maybe the thriller "Untraceable" is just for you. Yes, it's "Silence of the Lambs" meets Wi-Fi as Lane and Colin Hanks try to catch this killer before he kills again, or merges with YouTube or Facebook or whatever it is you crazy computer kids are up to.

(Soundbite of movie, "Untraceable")

Unidentified Man #1: (As Character) He's carved the name of the Web site into the guy's chest. It looks like he's threatening to drain him.

Mr. COLIN HANKS (Actor): (As Griffin Dowd) So the more people who visit the site, the more the drug is released, and the faster he bleeds.

Mr. LEGAN: Even though the Hollywood Reporter calls it highly watchable, the large majority of critics compare it to dial-up - slow and tedious. The Arizona Republic snarls: lazy and ridiculous. And The Wall Street Journal finds that "Untraceable" runs the gamut from unconscionable through unwatchable to unendurable.

And a film from Romania that somehow did not get an Oscar nod for best foreign film, even though it won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes, is "4 Months, 3 Days, and 2 Hours." It tells the gritty story of a young woman trying to arrange an illegal abortion in 1987 communist Romania.

The nation's critics applaud this harrowing film. Variety raves: pitch-perfect and brilliantly acted. Rolling Stone calls it a masterwork. And Time magazine cheers: gripping and satisfying.

And for those of you who have been waiting 20 years for that multilayered, three-dimensional warrior Rambo to return to the big screen, the wait is over. Yes, Sylvester Stallone is back as John Rambo, who tries to save some missionaries in war-torn Burma.

(Soundbite of movie, "Rambo")

Unidentified Man #2: (As Character) What did you do? We came here to help stop the killings. Who are you to...

Mr. STALLONE: (As John Rambo) Who are you? Who are any of you?

Mr. LEGAN: The critics aren't feeling very nostalgic for "Rambo." The Philadelphia Inquirer warns: this isn't a movie, it's an adrenaline pump and purveyor of raw carnage. The Associated Press yawns: one Stallone do-over we could do without. And Salon.com finds it neither cathartic nor entertaining.

Yeah, geez - I mean, Rambo and Stallone, they're over 60 years old, and he retires near the Thai-Burma border, where the world's longest civil war rages? I guess a condo in Palm Springs is out of his price range.

COHEN: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer nowhere near retirement or Palm Springs. He's living here in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.