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It’s been a while since we last saw John Rambo in 2008’s Rambo, and although fans might think they know what to expect after four films in this franchise, the Rambo they see in Rambo: Last Blood isn’t the same Rambo he used to be. Sylvester Stallone explained how Rambo is different in Last Blood, saying:
You’re bringing the onslaught of age, that he’s not what he was. A young fighter is at his peak reacts automatically without thought. Action, reaction. Well, you lose that as a boxer around 35, 38, 40. You start to think, and you can’t execute. Your mind says, 'Go,' but the hands, they just don’t respond. So now Rambo’s in that mode. He’s not what he was, but his mind still won’t let him stop.
Sylvester Stallone is 73 years old, and he’s not trying to pretend Rambo is a young man who's capable of all the feats of youth in Last Blood. As he tells Variety, the thing that he is bringing to Rambo in this movie that he couldn’t in the previous films is the onslaught of age. Through his character, the actor is able show the toll that onslaught takes on a person, even a person as capable as John Rambo.
Sly likens John Rambo in Last Blood to a fighter no longer in his prime. Although it varies by individual and weight class also plays a component, most fighters reach their peak, where the combination of physical ability and technical maturity are at their zenith, in their late 20s and early 30s. For some it happens gradually and for others seemingly overnight, but as time wears on they no longer react in quite the same way they used to.
Those reactions that once came automatically no longer do. You know how to react and the muscle memory is still there, it’s just that your body doesn’t operate in the same way. It can’t. An adage in sports and combat sports in particular is ‘Father Time is undefeated,’ and that adage holds true for everyone eventually. So that’s that state we’ll find Rambo in in Last Blood.
As Sly says, Rambo’s body won’t respond the same way in this film, and he won’t be the same warrior he was in First Blood or even in Rambo. Instincts never go and he’ll know what to do and how to do it, but he’ll be at war with his own limitations, as well the drug cartel. Ramo is fueled by love, loneliness and the pain of Vietnam in Last Blood, and his mind won’t allow him to stop even if his body begs him too.
Unfortunately for the cartel, even a geriatric Rambo is still formidable and he still has the skills and the knowledge, even if he’s a hell of a lot slower than he used to be. Maybe one day we’ll get to see John Rambo on the other end of the spectrum, even before his prime, because Sylvester Stallone wants a Rambo prequel to happen.