Homefront is a 2013 adaptation of a novel, but before becoming a Jason Statham vehicle it almost formed the basis of a fourth Rambo movie.
Here’s how Jason Statham’s 2013 action thriller Homefront was once a script for Rambo 4. Rambo III from 1988 followed on from the enormous success of the second movie and was, briefly, the most expensive movie ever made. Sadly, an undercooked screenplay and forgettable action saw the third entry receive a lukewarm reception, and for many years, it appeared the franchise was done. It took over 20 years before the character returned for the starkly titled Rambo, where he helped rescue Christian missionaries in Burma.
Rambo was a surprise hit, but it wasn’t the first concept Sylvester Stallone considered for the sequel. Various concepts thrown around for the sequel include a script where Rambo and his previously unmentioned sheriff brother work together to take down a gang of convicts during a hurricane in a small town, while Rambo: Borderline would later form the basis for the fifth movie in 2019.
Borderline saw Rambo head to Mexico to rescue a friend’s kidnapped daughter while running into an old enemy from his past.Another concept that was strongly considered was Homefront, an adaptation of the Chuck Logan novel of the same name. This screenplay was developed around the mid-2000s and would have picked up with Rambo as a father to a young girl, and reveal he had become a DEA agent. He and his daughter would have moved to a small Louisiana town where he soon makes enemies of some local meth dealers. Once they uncover his past, he and his daughter would become targets.
Of course, anyone who saw the 2013 Jason Statham Homefront movie will know how the story plays out.While Homefront was a solid script, the issue with the Rambo 4 version is that it just didn’t fit the character. It would have been too big a leap to see the nomadic Rambo of past films now being a retired DEA agent – especially given the events of the original film – with a young daughter. It felt like the Rambo character was being forced into a story where he didn’t belong, and given the events of the second and third movies, the threat from small-time meth dealers also felt a little small.
Stallone himself apparently felt the character wouldn’t have returned to America yet, which is why he eventually abandoned the Homefront draft of Rambo 4. This screenplay got good notices in the industry, however, and after working with Jason Statham on The Expendables movies, he retooled his script for the action star.
It doesn’t sound like much changed from the Rambo draft to Homefront, and it may have been as simple as renaming the character. The eventual Homefront movie was a decent success with a great supporting cast – Frank Grillo, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, etc – buts it’s not one of Statham’s best efforts either.