Rocky Balboa

Film

Time Out says

Sixteen years after ‘Rocky V’ comes a sequel few can seriously have been anticipating, as writer-director-star Stallone comes off the ropes for one last arthritic combination. Given that he hit 60 last year, the whole thing’s hardly plausible, but Stallone does manage to engineer a confrontation with a tiny grain of credibility. Crowds are booing the latest undefeated heavyweight champ because he’s never faced a serious contender, and when a TV sports programme comes up with a computer simulation suggesting that he’d lose to the Rocky Balboa of old, a charity exhibition bout is soon being talked up. It’ll give the title-holder some good PR, and for widower Rocky, scuffing around a Philadelphia he barely recognises, it’s a chance to regain his self-respect. ‘I still got sump’n left,’ he says, ‘In duh basement…’

Of course, the real story here is whether by sheer act of will, Sly can muscle back in on the box-office action he once took for granted, and although it’s hard to resist the feeling that you’re being gypped to salve his mid-life crisis, the big lug’s still an inexplicably likeable screen presence. The movie’s tiresomely sluggish for most of its running time, sloshing with indulgent sentiment as it lingers over former haunts and recalls old triumphs, and barely believable (except if you’re George Foreman) – yet still we’re rooting for the big guy, and even now there’s an involuntary nostalgic frisson when the training montage locks with Bill Conti’s theme music. Still, even goodwill can’t make this look like anything more than a glorified TV special. Surely it’s time for the audience to throw in the towel?

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