To be fair, John Rambo is a pretty common name.
Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo franchise currently stands at four entries, and unlike most film series each movie carries something of its own distinction. First Blood is as much a drama about veterans returning from war as it is an action film pitting one man against many. Rambo: First Blood Part II is a big, patriotic, revenge-themed blockbuster. Rambo III is a dud in every conceivable way. And 2008’s Rambo? Rambo is just a whole lot of ridiculous, bloody fun. (Son of Rambow was released that same year, but it’s an illegitimate child and therefore not in the official Rambo canon.)
A fifth film has been talked about periodically over the past eight years including a brief dalliance with the truly wacky idea of pitting Rambo against aliens, but the latest news is even crazier. Or is it?
Per The Hollywood Reporter, plans are afoot for Rambo: New Blood. Sadly, it doesn’t pit Rambo against a pissed-off teenager with psychic powers, but it does posit a world where John Rambo is played by someone other than Stallone. There’s been some resistance to the idea with the argument being that the character’s iconic nature is tied directly to Stallone’s slack-jawed portrayal. There’s some obvious truth to that, but the films left the idea of character behind long ago. At this point they’re simply action movies, and to that point the lead could be played by anyone.
It’s honestly surprising that Dwayne Johnson hasn’t already been announced in the role – although I do expect it will eventually be filled by some other less popular former wrestler.
The press release says the studio’s looking at the character as being “akin to James Bond” in the sense that the actor can be swapped out periodically, but that’s a wildly optimistic view. Yes, the character can be played by someone other than Stallone, but the bigger problem is that Rambo is not a character designed to go on indefinitely.
He actually dies in David Morrell’s original novel, but even in film form he’s someone who wants to hide away from the world as opposed to someone actively heading into situations. They probably won’t set him loose in a city – although I wouldn’t put it past a studio – so what global hot spots can he somehow find himself wandering into? And being a reboot the idea is to presumably start him fresh, but our current conflicts don’t carry anything resembling the cultural weight of Vietnam.
There are no details on a story yet, so we’ll have to wait to see what direction they decide to go – although I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that direction was straight to DVD. Hashtag sickburn. Behind the scenes talent has already been attached with Ariel Vrome (the criminally underseen Criminal) set to direct and Brooks McLaren tasked with writing the script, so more information should be heading our way soon.