Hollywood has a knack for bringing back movie franchises that long ago lost their cultural cache and somehow making people care about them again. Studios achieve this thanks to a potent combo of bottomless advertising budgets, a bit of borrowed nostalgia, the dearth of quality films, and an uncritical general public. The latest didn’t-miss-but-will-probably-see-anyway lifeless corpse of a franchise to be reanimated? Rambo.
Yes, friends. Rambo: Last Blood hits theaters September 20. This time around, Sylvester Stallone‘s quasi-iconic character is retired and working on a ranch in the Southwest. But then a friend’s daughter gets kidnapped. And guess what? Rambo gets back into action! It’s a real shocker like that. Here’s a refresher on the franchise’s totally insane plot before you inevitably see the latest installment. —J.R. Sullivan, senior editor
First Blood (1982)
Vietnam vet John Rambo escapes jail and stages a one-man revenge war against a local police force.
First Blood Part II (1985)
Rambo, behind bars, accepts a mission to Vietnam in exchange for his freedom, then ends up freeing some long-lost U.S. POWs, because of course.
Rambo III (1988)
Rambo is building a temple (naturally) when he learns he must go save his mentor in Afghanistan.
Rambo kills a bunch of pirates and really freaks out some missionaries.