hayden’s review published on Letterboxd:
The trick of employing American victims of post-war Vietnam is a cheap trick that is not wasted on me, Stallone. I think you should've stuck with James Cameron's words for some reason. First Blood Part II is so much less than it thinks it is. Relying on patriotism to justify the action hero's kink for ruthless murder is a detriment to the best moments of character from the first film and place a really unsettling tone on the events of this film. Rambo's choice to return to Vietnam could go both ways; obviously the route we the audience see, of one that is presumably (no writing is deep enough here to ensure this idea) John's motivation of rescuing his comrades from the place that tortures him.
However, the other one that I can't help but feel is more fitting is the one that sees the lead too traumatised to return to Vietnam, the setting that clearly has traumatised him, as evident in the numerous bouts of PTSD seen in First Blood. Couple this with the unsettling image of our protagonist burning alive a number of Vietnamese soldiers and the cringey anit-bureaucrat thematics and you get self-obsessed filmmaking at its finest. In saying that, the fact that there were still over 2000 American POWs inprisoned in 1985 is wild and their stories should be told, but this is almost the very worst way to do so. God, the final scene of the film sees a General pleading to the audience not to blame the government for the crimes of America's invasion. Gratuitous, lazy and pretty boring, Rambo: First Blood Part II is an unnecessary sequel that adds very little to the fray of action cinema.