MacGyver. Bond. Bourne. The list could go on and on, but another last name would have to be included: Rambo. Twenty-six years after the beginning of the John Rambo saga, the majority of civilized humanity immediately has a muscle-bound, bandanna-wearing, gun-toting Sylvester Stallone come to mind. That’s name recognition. But why Rambo, and why now?
For all of his stone-faced acting, Stallone has always struck me as genuine. In interviews, in his attempts at writing, directing and acting, he’s bent on giving you all of himself, his passion, his hopes, and his dreams. His recent take on his Rocky character resulted in a rocky outing, one that didn’t necessarily achieve what he hoped for, and one that I’m sure Harrison Ford hopes not to repeat in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But part of genuine Stallone is genuine persistence, and I’m hopeful that Rambo part IV will be different.
Rambo has always been a simple character to me. Programmed by the army to do its bidding, Rambo initially fights injustice in a small Northwest town against an evil sheriff played by Brian Dennehy (who remarkably plays an evil sheriff in my favorite Western, Silverado) and battles a younger David Caruso (who looks, remarkably, just like David Caruso today, only with more hair). Rambo’s mentality is us-against-the-world, and the “us” holds loyalty, truth, and honor as paramount virtues.
So, for Stallone to announce that he’s a churchgoing Catholic again, and that he’s making a “Christian film,” I’m all about finding out how Rambo is the Jesus-assault weapon we’ve always wanted him to be. Or at least the early expectation of a Messiah, right? I can’t say I’ve really been hanging around waiting for Jesus to arm himself and take on the principalities and authorities with hand grenades and rocket launchers.
Will Rambo actually be considered a success? I’m not sure that really matters. Will it be considered a “Christian film?” We could be debating that for years. But whether it is or it isn’t, I’ll be content to explore the humanity of John Rambo, the point of view of the “born again” Stallone, and watch some baddies get taken to task in the name of truth, honor, and justice. When it’s time for name brand recognition, that’s what Rambo is all about.