It’s easy to forget given how quickly the sequels morphed into ultra-violent shoot em’ ups, but Sylvester Stallone’s first outing as Rambo in First Blood was much more of a psychological thriller than an action movie. The leading man gave one of the most underrated performances of his career as a troubled Vietnam vet forced to evade the law, who mounts a guerrilla campaign to outwit his would-be captors.
In fact, Rambo doesn’t even kill anyone in First Blood, with the only death that of the local deputy who loses his balance and falls out of a helicopter when he’s trying to take out the hero. That’s a far cry from the rest of the franchise, with First Blood Part II upping the body count to 76, while Rambo III and 2008’s fourth installment combined to yield over 500 onscreen casualties.
That’s hardly reflective of the source material, and in a new interview, Quentin Tarantino admitted that if he wasn’t planning to retire after his next feature and just wanted to make a good movie, he’d mount a faithful adaptation of David Morrell’s novel with Adam Driver and Kurt Russell in the lead roles.
“If I just wanted to make a good movie, that I knew would be good, I would take David Morrell’s novel for First Blood and do the novel. Not the movie that was made out of First Blood. I would do the novel. And Kurt Russell would play the sheriff, and Adam Driver would play Rambo. Every time I read it, the dialogue is so fantastic in the David Morrell novel that you’re reading it out loud. It would be so good. But now I want to do more than that. But if it was just about to make a good movie, that’s out there.”
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While most action fans would surely balk at the prospect of Adam Driver throwing on the red headband and scurrying himself into the wilderness to mount a desperate battle for survival, the Star Wars alum is a phenomenal actor who would offer a much better representation of Morrell’s original Rambo than Stallone’s musclebound icon.
Having earned over $800 million at the box office and gotten a couple of statues out of the equation, Rambo is so firmly entrenched in the pop culture sphere that any remake would be a fool’s errand, though, even for someone with Tarantino’s reputation.