out of Five
Ridiculous, but nonetheless enjoyable, this drags a lot for the first half but rallies for the final act with a crowd-pleasing one-two of training montage and fight sequences.
What's it all about?
Sixteen years after the events of Rocky V, Rocky (Stallone) is now a successful restaurant owner, still mourning the loss of his wife Adrien, who died four years ago. He's also struggling to reconnect with his son, Rocky Jr (played by soon-to-be-famous-for-Heroes Milo Ventimiglia), who seems embarrassed by his father's continuing fame.
There's a lot of tedious emotional stuff until about halfway through, when a computer simulation declares that of all the boxers in history, only Rocky would have stood a chance against the current undefeated heavyweight champ Mason - The Line - Dixon (Antonio Tarver). Dixon needs the publicity so he challenges Rocky to a comeback exhibition match and – surprise!- Rocky accepts.
Stallone's performance is actually pretty good and when they finally arrive, the training montage and fight sequences are everything you'd hoped for, even if Rocky does have a weirdly veiny chest that is vaguely disturbing. The end credits are rather sweet too, with members of the public running up the iconic steps and doing Rocky impressions.
The script is packed with irritating cliches and is pretty ridiculous throughout. Apart from the sheer fact that Rocky is, let's not mince words, a pensioner, the biggest problem is that the screenplay doesn't give him a good enough reason to fight – he already has respect and he doesn't need the money or the publicity.
There's potential here for the film to be a lot better, namely by developing the supporting characters (such as Rocky Jr and Rocky's new
romantic interest) but the script largely ignores them in favour of Rocky doing a big emotional speech every 15 minutes or so.
In short, the good bits just about outweigh the bad bits and Rocky fans probably won't be disappointed.
Rocky Balboa (12A)