From the Archives: Rambo V: An Idea Crazy Enough to Work

From the Archives: Rambo V: An Idea Crazy Enough to Work

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Creed is a bona fide hit, and the world is taking Sylvester Stallone seriously once again. I’ve always contended that he’s a much better actor than most believe him to be (see: Cop Land), but he always seems to sell himself short by taking the most baffling roles. Still, he’s a man who seems to work solely on his own terms, and now that he’s of an age where we can excuse his myriad oddities as adorable relics of another time, he can comfortably live out the rest of his days doing anything he wants. This is why I say Stallone needs to dust off the green-lit, long dormant Rambo: The Savage Hunt.

In 2009, the film was in the early stages of production, and Stallone himself confirmed the plot synopsis: John Rambo, master of survival (though not diction), is dispatched to contain the product of a government super-soldier program. You see, the military has been using futuristic technology to unlock the savage beast which hides within all of us, hoping to turn it into a powerful weapon. One of the test subjects has escaped into the Pacific Northwest, and the ONLY person capable of stopping it is a septuagenarian Vietnam vet with crippling PTSD and rippling biceps … and a pretty, red headband. Yeah, it’s sounds stupid, because it is. But tell me you don’t want to see that, because I sure as hell do.

In the earliest stages of Rambo: The Savage Hunt, it was rumored that the film was going to take a harder sci-fi route, pitting ol’ J-Ramz against a Predator-like space monster. It’s easy to see why this idea was toned down. First, outside of a niche crowd (see: me) I can’t imagine an ad campaign for Alien v Rambo that wouldn’t be utterly ridiculous. Second, by instead making the villain a human product of the military there’s an opportunity for hammy commentary on how we treat our soldiers – and the Rambo series is nothing without hammy commentary on how we treat our soldiers. Moreover, there’s a huge opportunity for a retcon: what if it turns out that Rambo was one of the early test subjects in the super-soldier program? It would certainly explain why he simply cannot be killed, cannot stop killing, and seems to get more muscular at an age that would have any other man with his history confined to a wheelchair.

So let’s put the production together. Who should direct? Easy. Stallone. Remember The most recent Rambo entry where a hulked-out version of our hero single-handedly turned the entire population of Burma into exploding bags of blood? As tasteless as it was, it was awesome. The poetry of violence is something that Stallone does better than most, and if Rambo is going to fight a man-beast, it can’t be bland.

Who should write? Well the obvious answer is me, but in the instance that I’m too busy or they can’t meet my retainer fee, I’d happily pass the duties off to Stallone once again. No one knows the character of Rambo better than he does, and as our greatest piece of living 80s memorabilia, Stallone is more than capable of capturing the macho posturing that is required to make a solid Rambo flick.

Rambo, naturally, will be played by Stallone, and he should have a younger sidekick who will serve to be comic relief for the first two acts. The sidekick will be gruesomely killed by the beast during the third-act transition, which is what will send Rambo into the state of rage needed to dispatch the mutated super-soldier (perhaps Rambo, as a product of the soldier program, unleashes a dormant mutation of his own? Cha-ching!). The sidekick will NOT be played my Justin Long. Perhaps Jay Baruchel. He can play a tech geek who was once on the super-soldier design team and is now an expert in the psychology of the beast.

The beast will be played by Scott Adkins. He’s worked with Stallone in The Expendables 2, and his work in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning says the rest. Just put a ridiculous prosthetic forehead on him and he’s good to go.

Now all we need is a tagline. Easy. “This summer, John Rambo enters beast mode!” Monster Energy Drink will cover the cost of everything. Leave the rest of the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively, to Stallone.

Alright, Hollywood, I’m waiting.

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