The iconic “Rambo” movie franchise ended with “Rambo: Last Blood.” We all saw it happen. At the end of that film, the legendary character literally got onto a horse and rode off into the sunset, accompanied by clips of all his exploits in the previous four films.
It might have been a contentious movie, but it was a perfectly-formed farewell and everybody who left the movie theater after seeing it was confident that they’d seen John Rambo in a new adventure on the big screen for the very last time.
Perhaps they should have known better.
If the career of Sylvester Stallone has taught us anything, it’s that he’s always happy to make one more sequel if he thinks the idea is right. It’s why he made so many “Rocky” films followed by two “Creed” films and is still discussing the possibility of more “Rocky” adventures today.
It’s the reason why there are three “Expendables” films and may yet be a fourth one. It’s definitely the reason why Rambo keeps coming back and if recent comments made by the Hollywood legend are taken at face value, the reason why he might yet come back again.
Technically speaking, this isn’t ‘new’ news. At the time “Last Blood” was released, Stallone talked to the media and suggested he’d come back to the part yet again if the fifth film were a success. As it doubled its budget at the box office, it ticks that particular box.
More recently, he gave an interview with Nippon TV that suggested he’d solidified his idea for another film. As Rambo comes from an Indian family, Stallone would like to see the character go and take refuge on an Indian reservation.
Given the sheer scale of blood, guts, horror, and violence that appears to follow Rambo everywhere he goes, not everybody is likely to be pleased with that suggestion. Director Adrian Grunberg is likely to be against the idea, having stated firmly in the past that he believes that “Last Blood” is a definitive ending for the series, but it’s the location that’s likely to be the most troubling.
When Stallone decided to stage “Last Blood” in Mexico, with the veteran fighter taking on the infamous cartel, it was always likely to be problematic because of the times we live in. Current US President Donald Trump in on record as making several negative statements about Mexicans and Mexican culture in the past, and to its critics, the fifth film pandered to all of those stereotypes.
The Mexican characters in the movie were either criminal, violent, or both. Rambo, as an American heading to Mexico to clean up the mob, could have been construed as an ethnically-cleansing crusader.
Numerous reviewers thought that the film had racist undertones, and David Morrell – the man who wrote the text of the original “Rambo” novel “First Blood” all the way back in 1972 – washed his hands of it entirely and said he no longer wanted to be associated with the character or the brand. As criticism goes, that’s fairly damning.
With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine how a “Rambo” film could be made on an Indian reservation without running into similar difficulties, especially if the ‘villains’ of the piece are Native Americans. “Rambo” can always rely on shock and awe to persuade people to buy tickets, but as an increasing number of celebrities are finding out, it’s easy to become ‘canceled’ on social media if you’re perceived as having said or done something overtly racist.
Based on his history as a filmmaker, subtlety isn’t Stallone’s strong point. Even if his intentions were good, it’s unlikely that he’d come up with a film that touched upon racial issues without being insensitive.
He also won’t get any help on that front from Morrell, who said that his last contact with Stallone came in 2016 when the actor claimed he wanted to male a ‘soulful’ Rambo movie. Clearly, that didn’t happen, and the author no longer has any desire to be involved.
From all of the above, we could make a strong argument that yet another “Rambo” film might not be a good idea. That doesn’t, however, mean it won’t happen. You only have to look at the cottage industry that’s grown up around “Rambo” to see that the brand still makes money.
In the aftermath of the last movie, a brand-new “Rambo” online slots game was released. That made it one of three “Rambo”-themed online slots that have been released in the past decade.
All of them are still online. All of them are still making money. If the character can still persuade people to spend money at Isoftbet online slots, it can still persuade people to buy tickets to come to the movies. So long as there’s money on the table, and so long as Stallone still feels he can play the character convincingly, the chances are that the films will carry on being made.
Right now, of course, we have no idea how close Stallone is to have a finalized script. His “Indian reservation” idea might have been fleshed out to the size of a full screenplay, or it could just be an idea that’s kicking around his head at the moment.
Making a film on the kind of scale that “Rambo” demands isn’t a quick process, and so from writing a script to casting the movie and getting in front of the camera, we could be looking at two years. By that time, Stallone will be seventy-six years old. We sincerely hope that he’s still in good health at that time, but the visual of a 76-year-old Rambo trying to run around after bad guys and blow them up could look farcical if handled the wrong way.
There’s a reason why near-eighty-year-old mercenaries don’t exist in real life, and it’s the same reason that a near-eighty-year-old Stallone may want to think twice about trying to play one on screen. He’s in phenomenal physical shape for a man his age, but time catches up with everybody eventually.
Will this proposed sixth “Rambo” movie be made? We don’t know. We suspect that if Stallone wants to make it, a production company will come up with the money because it’s a guaranteed earner. Whether or not that makes it a great idea is highly debatable – but since when has that ever mattered in the context of making films?