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Rambo: Last Blood
  • Composed by Brian Tyler
  • Lakeshore / 75m

John Rambo comes back for yet another farewell tour in Rambo: Last Blood, this time going to Mexico to rescue his kidnapped adopted daughter. Sylvester Stallone directed the previous one but has given the director’s chair over to Adrian Grunberg this time round; but as with all the other films in the series, he did co-write the screenplay. Brian Tyler took over the mantle from Jerry Goldsmith when he wrote the music last time and he returns to provide some continuity this time. Goldsmith took different approaches to each of the first three films and, sure enough, Tyler has written a new main theme this time, heard in the first track – it’s much more of an action theme than the previous film’s, but (quite unusually for the composer) the tune doesn’t really stick in the memory. There’s a dollop of Goldsmith in it, as there is in the next couple of cues – “The Ranch” has that lonely guy variant on the main theme – then “Dusk” is a straight reprise of Tyler’s own theme from the fourth film, sandwiched by the Goldsmith motif.

It is always difficult for a composer to incorporate another composer’s music without it sounding a bit forced and I didn’t think it was done that well in Tyler’s previous score; this time it definitely sounds more organic. The score is not the all-out action fest you might expect: as well as his own Rambo theme from the previous film (which has a certain elegiac construction) there are other string-dominated bursts of emotion here – perhaps best expressed in the soaring “Vengeance Eternal”, and in a different way in the more intimate “John and Gabrielle”. Of course, there is plenty of action too – Tyler’s familiar orchestral style, lots of brass and percussion, all the right buttons are pushed. And in between these two styles on the lengthy album, some less interesting suspense material that doesn’t do much for me away from the film. I like Brian Tyler and comparing anyone with Jerry Goldsmith isn’t really fair given how special he was – but the way Goldsmith was able to get inside the character and craft music which seemed unique to him (in three different ways across his three films) was what made him so special, whereas Tyler’s music sounds like it could come from any action film. We’ve heard him do it so often now, it feels like maybe it’s time for him to try to find a different way of solving the musical problems (at least in terms of making interesting albums – which obviously is not the main priority). I’m not sure there’s enough here to justify a 75-minute album – Rambo: Last Blood is a decent orchestral action score with a surprising number of heartfelt cues and the highlights are impressive, but I don’t get the same thrills as when the composer’s at his very best.

Rating: *** | |

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