It doesn’t get much more quintessentially 1980s than Rambo. The Sylvester Stallone-headlined venture is one of the handful of films to set the tone for action movies in the '80s, largely creating the blueprint for the action heroes of the day. You don’t get much more hardcore than John Rambo, and the three original films in the series—First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part 2, and Rambo 3—remain classics of the genre to this day. Even the fourth entry into the series, 2008’s John Rambo, managed to recapture some of the glory of the character, solidifying him as an action hero worthy of a new generation.
Based on the 1972 novel by David Morrell, Rambo had the significant distinction of bringing many of the issues facing returned Vietnam veterans to light when it hit the big screen. Issues of PTSD and problems with reintegration had gone largely ignored by the public until then. Since its release, the character has become almost synonymous with Stallone. Rumors have swirled for year about his return as the character, which he confirmed in 2014. Those plans were put on hold late last year as news of a new Rambo TV series broke, eventually leading to Stallone’s announcement that he was retiring as the character. Since then there’s been little information about either a new movie or TV series - but it seems that Rambo is now set to return.
THR is reporting that plans for a Rambo movie reboot have been solidified. Currently titled Rambo: New Blood—the same name as the previously-planned television series—the film will not feature Stallone returning to the role and will, for the first time, feature a new actor as the war hero. According to the new report, Nu Image/Millennium Films is approaching the film as a sort of James Bond figure, perhaps implying that an entire new series is being planned. Ariel Vromen (Criminal) has signed on to direct the film, which is being written by newcomer Brooks McLaren, who has three films in various stages of development.
It’s difficult to imagine who might step into the role of John Rambo, and harder still to imagine the direction the reboot will take. How far with the similarities to the James Bond franchise extend? Are we meant to imagine that the new Rambo is a continuation of the one from the previous four films? There are plenty of questions swirling around the project, but so far not a lot of answers.
As tired as everyone might be of remakes, a straight forward reboot might be better suited for Rambo. The character’s history as a symbol for the plight of veterans and soldiers is especially relevant today, with the rising number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans having issues with PTSD and post-war adjustment. There’s an opportunity here to bring those issues to light once more, updating the character to reflect today’s times and today’s problems. An angle like that could work, and work well.
Rambo is so much more than just an action hero, and trying to shoehorn the character into a standard action movie feels very much like a mistake. We don’t know for sure what approach they’re planning, but both the title and the comparison to James Bond are somewhat worrisome. With so little information currently available about the project, we’ll have to wait and see how it develops.
We'll bring you more information on the Rambo reboot as it becomes available.