First Blood (1982)
Looking back at critical reaction to First Blood really makes it clear how much has changed since its first release. The initial critical response to the first movie about John Rambo was mostly to address its credibility. Reviewers called it implausible, difficult to believe. That’s not a criticism that would be leveled at a movie like this today; nobody watches The Expendables or the latest Fast & Furious movie and says, you know, it’s good but it’s just so unlikely. But the Rambo movies that followed really kind of expanded the space of plausibility anyway – First Blood might be unusual, but Rambo isn’t downing helicopters with exploding arrows yet. Likelihood aside, First Blood is genuinely well-made; a powerful performance from a Sylvester Stallone who was closer to his star turn in Rocky than his eventual descent into self-parody anchors an actually discomfiting story about the mistreatment of Vietnam vets and the way violence erodes your sense of self.