Explaining the critic/audience score divide for “Rambo: Last Blood”

This past weekend, moviegoers nationwide defied the consensus recommendation of film critics by seeing Rambo: Last Blood in theaters, and wouldn’t you know it? A large majority of the audience enjoyed the film, with the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes landing at an average of 86% positive reviews while critics (Rotten Tomatoes-approved critics) slammed Last Blood with a scathing 27% positive rating.

Rambo: Last Blood appears to be the latest example of a growing divide between critical reviews and audience reception. Why is there such a sharp disconnect? In their latest editorial, the Midnight’s Edge YouTube channel examines how the language used in the critical reviews of Last Blood may explain why the critics were so adamantly harsh, as well as how Rambo fits into the larger trend of audiences disagreeing with critics when it comes to which movies are worth watching.

According to Midnight’s Edge, the critics’ reviews largely avoided language detailing any technical failings of Rambo: Last Blood, and instead chose to the film for pushing “Trumpian fantasies”. However, despite taking place on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border, Last Blood has almost zero political subtext. There is no mention of politics, President Trump, immigration, “the wall”, etc. As Midnight’s Edge correctly points out, the basic plot for Last Blood was outlined in 2010, with John Rambo rescuing a girl from human traffickers goes back to 2010, half a decade before Donald Trump ran for president.

In fact, the accusation that Last Blood promotes a Trump-esque agenda seems to stem entirely on the fact that the villains of the movie are Mexicans. But those who have seen the movie also know that other than Rambo himself, the entire cast is Mexican/Latino. This includes Rambo’s adopted family, human trafficking victims, and multiple supporting characters who assist Rambo in taking down the Mexican cartel’s human trafficking operation. As Midnight’s Edge puts it, “The cartels are the villains here – not Mexicans, and not immigrants, illegal or otherwise.”

How explicitly does a film have to express that not every individual who shares a particular demographic status is bad? Midnight’s Edge is quick to point out that Taken starring Liam Neeson doesn’t go out of its way to show that not all eastern Europeans are human traffickers, neither does John Wick explicitly say that not all Russian immigrants are mobsters, and World War II movies have never been expected to proclaim that not all Germans were evil. “The audience was assumed to be smart enough to figure that out for themselves.”

You can watch the full Midnight’s Edge editorial below.

Have you seen Rambo: Last Blood? Do you agree that professional movie critics are letting ideological leanings interfere with their objectivity? Will it lead to movie reviewers becoming even more irrelevant than they are now? Let us know in the comments!

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