Cinematic art form — and possible machine — Sylvester Stallone is 72-years-old. Let that sink in for a second. You wouldn’t think this great man was old enough to be your grandpa based on his ripped physique and recent career choices. As we speak, he’s currently shooting Rambo V: Last Blood, which will see him reprise his most iconic action role for one last bloodbath. Creed 2 is right around the corner as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him brawl with Dolph Lundgren for old time’s sake. Most actors retire in their 70’s or at least calm down. Sly, on the other hand, can’t be stopped.
But that’s not all. According to Deadline, the Italian Stallion’s recently-launched production company, Balboa Productions, is also cooking up some tasty treats. With the company, Sly will develop film and television projects, some of which he still star in because who else is more suited to his creative vision? This is the guy who rejected the starring role in Beverly Hills Cop because it wasn’t more like the movie that became Cobra after all. He likes to have some creative input and make movies according to his taste. A production company is a great idea.
In true Stallone style, the announced projects he might star in under the Balboa banner promise some big thrills. The most exciting of the bunch for me is Samaritan, written by Bragi Schut, which has been described as an original superhero tale with a dark edge. That’s all we know about the movie at the time of writing, but a Stallone superhero movie is such a crazy idea that it might just work. And given the actor’s propensity for gritty and violent roles, I imagine the film will bring the darkness it promises. The description is vague, but this won’t be like Sly’s last super crusader–themed outing, Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Elsewhere, the company is also working on an adaptation of James Byron Huggins‘ “Hunter” novel. This project has been brewing since 2009, and the original plan was to turn it into a Rambo sequel which would have featured our hero taking the fight to a deadly monster turned loose by a corrupt agency. Right now, the “Hunter” movie appears to be a straight adaptation of the book, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Rambo series it’s that trouble will always find old John. You can never rule out another sequel. So don’t be surprised if this morphs into the Rambo movie that Sly always once envisioned it as. But any movie where Sly (if he stars) fights a creature is good enough for me.
The company has also acquired the film rights to “Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent”, the memoir by former FBI agent Michael McGowan and writer Ralph Pezzullo. This one could be really interesting, as McGowan reportedly worked more undercover cases than any other agent in the bureau history. During his career he busted international drug operations, infiltrated biker gangs, brought down corrupt organizations, and carried out SWAT work. Basically, his actual career was similar to the plots of some of these great movies about going undercover. If any memoir adaptation can be mined for explosive action, it’s this one. I’m cautiously optimistic about this one since memoir adaptations are hit or miss.
Military-themed action movies have also appealed to Stallone from time to time throughout the years, and his production company has hired retired Army Ranger Max Adams to pen a script for a movie dedicated to special ops. A movie of this ilk, penned from the point-of-view of someone who’s experienced the trenches, at least adds some gravitas to proceedings. Hopefully, though, the movie will bring something fresh and interesting to the table — inspired by Adams’ own experiences.
For the small screen, Balboa’s development slate includes an adaptation of “Levon’s Trade”, from controversial author Chuck Dixon. The veteran comics writer and novelist is an outspoken right-winger who’s supposedly been blacklisted by Marvel and other publishers because of his politics. That stuff aside, though, he’s the mastermind behind some awesome Punisher and Batman stories. Fans of Frank Castle and action-packed vigilante fare will have a blast with this adaptation since the source material is an action-packed tour de force of mayhem and violence.
Second Son, adapted from Charles Sailor‘s religious adventure novel, is also heading to television at some point. The story chronicles a construction worker who’s given a second chance at life following an incident that would cause certain death for anyone else. Afterwards, he also finds out that he has the ability to heal people, which brings him to the attention of the Vatican and the government. Killing Eve‘s Ron Williams will pen the script for this one, and if the premise is handled well maybe we’ll get a good, thought-provoking show about religion and the power of responsibility.
A couple of these projects sound pretty swell, and fans of Sly’s brand of macho entertainment will know what to expect. Sure, there will be jingoism and some questionable politics present in some of these movies and shows, but I trust Sly to help deliver the goods overall. But let’s not forget that this guy has been the creative force behind some critically acclaimed dramas that proves he can be more than just an action stud. I’d love to see this company back a variety of projects that take us by surprise. But if Stallone uses this company to mostly create starring vehicles for himself that involve him blowing stuff up, that’ll be awesome, too.