Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo is a man of few words in the Rambo franchise, and this was a conscious creative choice for the franchise.
Sylvester Stallone does not speak much in the Rambo movies, and this was a key creative choice for the franchise. John Rambo first appeared in David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood, about a PTSD-stricken Vietnam veteran who is pushed over the edge after being arrested by abusive small town cops. First Blood was subsequently adapted into the 1982 movie of the same name, with Sylvester Stallone portraying John Rambo.
First Blood became a major hit, and spawned the Rambo action movie franchise, with Stallone returning in all four sequels and even directing 2008’s Rambo. One noticeable trait about Stallone’s portrayal of Rambo is the character’s relatively minimal dialogue. As it turns out, this grew out of Rambo’s harrowing psychological experiences.
Rambo’s Minimal Dialogue Was A Story Choice
On his First Blood DVD commentary, David Morrell explains the thought process behind Rambo not speaking much, with the first reason being that in dealing with the long-term psychological effects of his experiences in Vietnam “That he wouldn’t really have a lot to say.” Morrell even reveals on the commentary that “there is one draft of the script in which Rambo has no dialogue at all, until the very end when he explodes in this great speech“, which further highlights the dark nature of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo.
Additionally, Morrell reveals that First Blood‘s Rambo dialogue being kept to a minimum was a commercial consideration. As Morrell states, “They thought if we lowered the amount of dialogue that was at work here, not just for Rambo but for everybody, and keep it at a fairly visceral level of dialogue, that it would be easier to dub into other languages.” While a lack of riveting dialogue can be a point of criticism in movies, in the case of the Rambo franchise, it was a smart decision.
Why Rambo Barely Speaking Works For The Franchise
For all of his apparent outward invincibility, John Rambo is a very vulnerable character and a deeply scarred man due to his wartime experiences, with Rambo only killing one character in First Blood despite his reputation as the ultimate killing machine. In being such a damaged person, Rambo makes efforts to shut himself off from other people. General Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) and Gabriel Betran (Yvette Monreal) in the Rambo: Last Blood movie are some of the only close relationships he forms, with Rambo otherwise being a loner, which makes his frequent silence easier to understand.
Additionally, for a man like Rambo who naturally has little to say, whenever he does speak, it is very frequently in the aim of emphasizing a point. This is why Rambo’s impassioned monologue in the ending of Rambo: First Blood Part II, or other similar speeches in the Rambo franchise, land with as much impact as they do. John Rambo’s words and perspective on the world hit hard in the Rambo franchise, and maximizing the impact of Rambo’s thoughts when he shares them is why the series keeps his dialogue in check.
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