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The recent announcement that Rambo V: The Savage Hunt would venture into sci-fi received a surprisingly large and middling response from readers last Friday. More than a year ago, I speculated that the film might take on a similar vein to Predator, and based on a new, official plot synopsis over at AICN, that seems on the money. In fact, the project is a loose adaptation of a sci-fi action book called Hunter by James Byron Huggins (Leviathan). Sylvester Stallone bought the rights to Hunter a while ago, which sees “the world’s greatest tracker and “his giant black wolf Ghost” in a showdown set in Alaska with a massive, intelligent creature, the result of a shadowy DNA-experiment. Rambo V‘s plot is clearly based on the material…

A beast is loose somewhere north of the Arctic Circle…And the raging creature is headed south toward civilization, ready to wreak bloody devastation…It’s a job that Rambo and his 22-year-old hunting partner, Beau Brady, can’t turn down, but they and a team of highly skilled Special Forces Kill Team [sic] discover that the prey is beyond their wildest imagination, a half-human abomination created by a renegade agency through a series of outlawed genetic experiments…they’ll still have to confront the grim reality that it may have grown immortal.

It’s of note that this synopsis is a bit different from earlier details, which had Rambo hunting down (as opposed to being hunted by): “brilliantly instinctual killer soldiers that have no qualms about taking life. And when things go wrong, Rambo is brought in with a Black Ops squad to hunt, capture and kill these chemically engineered creations.” The rather un-pro poster that was released for the project (above) seems to point towards Rambo having a wolf, like in the book, rather than (or in addition to?) battling a lycanthrope-type terror as some have speculated.

The addition of a sidekick doesn’t sit well on paper. The appeal of Rambo is that he’s a loner, and the end to Rambo IV (Rambo) made that crystal clear, hinting that Rambo would be returning to battle in the U.S. a la the first film. It also digs up bad memories of Die Hard IV, which had John McClane trading stale wisecracks with a bright-eyed Justin Long. Of course, DH4 categorically sucked ass mostly due to the franchise-detour that was a PG-13 rating; the rating for Rambo V hasn’t been announced, but Stallone previously flirted with making The Expendables PG-13, which is cause for mild worry imo.

Again, I think some of the negative reaction thus far—besides canon loyalty—can be chalked off to that straight-to-DVD-esque poster. It looks like something Stallone would make if he hadn’t pulled a pretty stellar pop-culture comeback with Rambo and Rocky Balboa. Last year, I was intrigued with the “different genre” idea and, as a fan of the series, I remain so. In fact, I think it sounds pretty ambitious for Stallone compared to a “Mexican drug trafficker” fiesta as previously rumored. Stallone’s last foray into sci-fi was the failed and pricey launch of a Judge Dread franchise, but I’ve always found it interesting that he didn’t make more sci-fi flicks like California’s governor. Never say never. But what say you?

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