Why Sylvester Stallone Still Isn’t Too Old to Play an Action Hero

We’re all starting to rethink how old someone has to be to participate in action movies, even if Arnold Schwarzenegger arguably proved reviving his movie career wasn’t the best move. His contemporary, Sylvester Stallone, is a bit of a different story. Stallone has maintained his relevancy by (mostly) staying away from politics and creating movies the public still wants to see.

Thanks to the new Creed franchise, involvement with Guardians of the Galaxy, plus producing movies, Stallone manages to stay in the forefront while still giving other actors the spotlight. 

With a new sequel to Rambo announced; however, Stallone will again be the star bill of the character he helped create 37 years ago. In our minds, an older action star has a lot of interesting possibilities.

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Sylvester Stallone’s films from ‘First Blood’ to ‘Last Blood’

When Stallone first played John J. Rambo in 1982’s First Blood, it was jolt with fans since he was primarily known then as playing heroic Rocky Balboa. Having Stallone playing a bit of an antihero was considered edgy since the antihero craze was years away from becoming a mainstream plot device.

On the other hand, the character of Rambo had a sympathetic side in becoming a former Vietnam War vet vigilante. The Vietnam War was still being talked about in the early ’80s and what vets were going through mentally. Films exploring the war in depth still hadn’t been mined extensively, other than The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now.

Looking at First Blood through fresh eyes today, you can see how innovative it was for how action scenes were shot. Some critics savaged the story in 1982 while later changing their minds on the film’s revolutionary approach.

A misunderstood veteran is certainly an apropos subject now as well, no doubt why Stallone thought revisiting Rambo at the age of 73 could be interesting territory to explore. From the sounds of it, it’s going to make the previous films look like child’s play.

A ripped Sylvester Stallone in an R-rated finale

It’s a little bit jarring to think of Stallone appearing in a hard R-rated movie since we know him as an intense action star on one side, then an “accessible to all audiences” star on the other. All of the Rocky movies managed to balance these two sides, as has Creed and its sequel.

Rambo was different from the start, not including likely having to be toned down in the 1980s to avoid a hard R then. According to Stallone, the upcoming Last Blood is going to be unlike anything anyone has seen. Rambo will reportedly be battling sex traffickers near the Mexican border…reportedly to his death.

Some might feel incredulous about the violence intensity when what we’ve seen in movies and TV alone has already gone to shocking levels of gore.

Seeing Stallone go there with Last Blood could be a major surprise and set a precedent for never discriminating against a 70-something action star in bringing something compelling to the table.

Sylvester Stallone’s workout program has kept him looking young

You have to wonder if Last Blood will acknowledge John J. Rambo is 73. Nobody would believe it, despite Stallone’s birth date of 1946 not being a lie. Thanks to Stallone’s workout program, he’s kept himself looking like a man in his 40s or 50s rather than well beyond retirement age.

One could argue he looks a lot younger than Arnold Schwarzenegger does, outside of latter still working out intensely. Perhaps this creates some rivalry between the two like they had back in the ’80s for biggest international box office star.

With Stallone also signing on to direct and produce The International as a TV project with his friend, Dolph Lundgren, Stallone is sticking with the action genre. Whether Last Blood will be the last intense action movie he ever acts in seems hard to believe.

Action stars working into their 70s may become a recurring thing if they can stay in the same shape Stallone has. Knowing they can wreak as much havoc as a younger star will likely help attract older audiences who think the action genre long ago left them behind.