This time, John Rambo will take down a Mexican sex-trafficking ring.
It’s been 10 long years since the cinematic art form that is Sylvester Stallone last donned the famous John Rambo headband and fired a rapid onslaught of bullets into enemy scum. The movie was much better than it probably had any right to be, and it reinvigorated a franchise that many thought had nothing left to give. Therefore, it brings me great joy to report that a fifth entry is currently in the works, and it’s happening soon.
Screen Daily broke the news that Stallone is returning for a sequel that’s scheduled to begin shooting September 1st. In this installment, our hero is living in Arizona and burdened with PTSD. He is forced to come out of mass killing retirement when his friend’s granddaughter goes missing in Mexico, which leads him to battle a vicious crime lord and his sex trafficking ring.
The screenplay was written by Matt Cirulnick, whose previous credits include the excellent Paid in Full. Avi Lerner, who previously worked with Sly on The Expendables, will produce alongside Kevin King.
The plot sounds like the planned sequel that was in the works back in 2009, but other ideas that sound way more interesting have been tossed around in the years leading up to this announcement. At one point, evil Canadians were supposed to be bad guys. Elsewhere, a TV series was also in the works, as was a reboot, and an outlandish sci-fi experiment that sounded more like a Universal Soldier movie than a traditional Rambo adventure. I really hope that last one still happens someday.
A new Rambo movie where Mexican criminals will face the wrath of Stallone’s one-man killing militia sounds timely for the Trump era. Some might say it’s a little wrong-headed, especially those who interpret the series as jingoistic and right-wing. Ronald Reagan once endorsed First Blood: Part IIin 1985 by joking that the movie gave him ideas about how to handle a hostage situation, which propelled the viewpoint that the character is a poster boy for American superiority. On the other hand, some would argue that he’s a victim of it.
John Rambo is a complicated character, and a tragic one at that. His story began as a veteran who couldn’t re-adjust back into society after the Vietnam War, and that was partly because his country didn’t want him back. Ever since then, his only real home has been war zones, and he’s been depicted as a cog in the wheel who is called upon to serve whatever corrupt bureaucracy needs him to do their dirty work at the time. He knows he’s expendable, but he has a personal code of honor that always leads him back to the battlefield.
In Rambo: First Blood Part II, he sets out to free prisoners of war because he can empathize with their plight. In Rambo III, the motivation of his mission in Afghanistan is that his military mentor — and father figure — has been captured. In 2008’s Rambo, he wants to free the oppressed from their oppressors. The idea of helping the helpless has been a recurring theme throughout the series.
His motivation in the next movie will likely be the same, but how the film addresses the current political climate will likely spur some heated debates. Stallone has a history of tapping into topical issues with his most popular blockbuster franchises, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
In the upcoming Creed 2, the tensions between America and Russia will be settled in a boxing ring. Here, the War On Drugs and sex trafficking will be brought to the forefront — with a character Sly has admitted probably dislikes Mexicans. Stallone’s willingness to explore these hot-button issues is what makes him an interesting entity and I’m intrigued to see if he brings more to the table with this movie than an entertaining bloodbath. That said, if that’s all it is then so be it.