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The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Rambo: Last Blood**. Check out the new movie first, then come back to discuss how it ends. Or, if you just want to know, read on.**
We were introduced to the character of John Rambo in First Blood in 1982. Following the character's PTSD fueled breakdown in that movie, we followed Rambo through three sequels where Rambo does what he does best: fight. He goes back to Vietnam, he fights alongside the mujaheddin in Afghanistan (maybe not the best choice) and he rescues Christian missionaries from the genocide in Burma. After that, he goes home.
Nearly 40 years after the first film, we have Rambo: Last Blood. With a title like that, it seems clear that the movie is setting itself up to be the last ride for John Rambo. However, while this certainly could be the last Rambo movie, it by no means is the finale the title might imply. Let's break down exactly what happens in Rambo: Last Blood, and what that might mean for the potential future of the franchise.
What Happens In Rambo: Last Blood
Before we dive into the ending, a quick run down of the context that leads to it. Rambo: Last Blood is a revenge story. John Rambo lives on his ranch with Maria and her granddaughter Gabrielle, who travels to Mexico to see her biological father, but is kidnapped by a cartel and forced into sex work. Rambo travels to Mexico to rescue Gabrielle, and does, but she dies as a result of the abuse she has suffered before Rambo can get her home.
In response, Maria leaves, and Rambo says he's going to do the same. He tells Maria he'll just wander, as he has done before. However, before he leaves, he plots his vengeance. Rambo fills his ranch, and the tunnels beneath he has built, with booby traps. He sets up the weapons that he'll need. Then he goes back to Mexico and kills one of the brothers in charge of the cartel, in order to lure the other, with his army of minions, to the killing floor.
How Rambo: Last Blood Ends
The big action finale of Rambo: Last Blood ends largely as you might expect. Rambo knows how to do one thing well, and he does that. He kills all of them. Most of the nameless minions Rambo destroys never even see their death coming, and several no longer have eyes to see with at all when he's done with them.
One of the last minions left alive does get a few shots into Rambo's gut before meeting his end. Then, Hugo, the boss, gets an additional shot into the back of Rambo's shoulder before Rambo brings his entire cave complex down. Hugo makes it out alive, but then he meets Rambo's bow and arrow. Hugo gets pinned to the wall and Rambo literally cuts out the man's heart and shows it to him before Hugo expires.
The wounded John Rambo then makes his way back to his house, and the rocking chair sitting on his porch, as Rambo tells us in the voiceover that he "never really came home." In this moment. Rambo's fate is left ambiguous.
From here, the credits start to roll, and behind them we get a montage of scenes from the entire Rambo franchise. It even concludes with moments from the film that we've just watched. However, at the end of the montage, we get new scenes. We see Rambo mounting one of his horses and riding off into the distance. It appears that John Rambo may live to fight another day after all.
What Does It Mean?
Ultimately, this means that while Rambo: Last Blood seemed to be setting itself to be the last Rambo movie, that's not necessarily the case. Rambo hasn't died and he hasn't found some sort of peace in his life that means he's going to stop fighting. In fact, quite the opposite. While 2008's Rambo had John end his wandering, Last Blood sends him back out into the world. He could go anywhere and do anything, which means he could quite easily find himself in another situation that requires him to "be Rambo" once again in the future.
If fans were looking for closure, they didn't find it here. Ultimately, that's part of the story being told. Rambo came home looking to stop wandering, and while he spent 10 years at home, he never found the peace he was looking for. Perhaps he needs to look elsewhere, or perhaps he'll never find it the peace he's searching for.
It has to be said that Sylvester Stallone is in pretty amazing shape for 73 years old. He looks better in Rambo: Last Blood than he did in 2008's Rambo, and not just because he finally cut his hair. The man could certainly carry another Rambo movie if he were so inclined. Though, one would guess that movie would have to come sooner rather than later. We can't exactly wait another decade for Rambo 6.
Whether or not Sylvester Stallone ever plays John Rambo again, there's also the possibility the franchise could go in the other direction. Stallone has expressed interest in seeing a Rambo prequel, a movie that follows a teenage Rambo in the years before he became a soldier. Rambo does say in Last Blood that he always wanted to be a soldier, so the story of how those desires met with the reality of the Vietnam War is certainly a story that could be told.
In the end, the question of whether or not we see Rambo again will likely be a decision made by the box office. If the audience makes it clear they want more Rambo by spending their money on tickets to Last Blood, then there's a good chance more Rambo could be forthcoming. If not, then the image of Rambo riding off into the sunset will be the last we see of him, and we can each come up with our own theories about what happened to him after that.