Dir/scr: SylvesterStallone. US. 2006. 100mins.
Sixteen years since the last installment,multi-hyphenate Sylvester Stallone delivers RockyBalboa, a stirring and pleasingly grounded tale of an erstwhileunderdog-turned-champion coming to terms with his ownageing. The most emotionally resonant film in the iconic series since theOscar-winning 1976 original, it also showcases by far Stallone'sbest performance in years.
While the last film in theseries, Rocky V, comparativelyunderperformed in the
While its boxing action isacutely observed, this is first and foremost a firmly rooted character drama,which may befuddle more gung-ho genre fans. For this reason, the higher reachesof the series may be out of graps. Regardless,ancillary value will be high, as RockyBalboa provides the perfect emotive bookend to Stallone'ssignature franchise.
Leaving intact his humblefinancial stature but ignoring some of the more dire health predictions of Rocky V, the movie findsby-his-own-bootstraps boxing champ Rocky recast as a modest restaurateur,telling patrons the same old war stories and kindheartedly feeding a former,down-on-his-luck opponent for free.
With his namesake son (Milo Ventimiglia) busy trying to establish a separate,professional career track for himself, Rocky leads a pretty lonely life, keptcompany only by his irascible brother-in-law Paulie(Burt Young). That starts to change a bit when Rocky meets single mother Marie(Geraldine Hughes), an old girl from his neighbourhood.
Back in the ring, Mason "TheLine"
As it wore on, the Rocky series often dipped into machoposing, but Rocky Balboa delivers avery basic and relatable tale that - to its great credit - could easily beenvisioned without the boxing. In a rather savvy and smartly structuredscreenplay, Stallone deftly captures the awkwardness of Rocky'srelationship with his son ("You throw a long shadow," says Junior).
He also, in dialogue thatsometimes amusingly indulges Rocky'scharacteristically circuitous logic, does a good job of writing realisticallyto the level of his blue-collar character. Skating just around cliches, Rockyspeaks in elliptical, working man chestnuts, and theirdepth of feeling and unaffectedness ring true and quickly re-establish a strongaudience identification with him.
It's Stallone's melancholic,well-worn performance, however, that most capably sells the movie. Reminiscentof many other Stallone vehicles, there is still the scene in Rocky Balboa where he stands up torandom, mouthy jerks, only here it's tinged with a palpable sadness thathighlights Rocky's humanity. It's but one example ofhow the movie trades in practical payoffs (acquaintance rather than newfoundlove, measured successes rather than huge victories) instead of pompousnarrative grandstanding.
Shot chiefly, like the otherfilms in the series, in
Directorially, only a fewaffected colour bleeds and slow-motion montage fades mar what is otherwise ahighly credible and surprisingly poignant tale of life's hard knocks and oneman's continual response to them.
Underscoring the film's inspirationalemotional appeal is an end credit sequence reprisal of composer Bill Conti'slegendary theme. It is set to real-life, modern day footage of kids and adultsalike running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, mirroring thefamed training sequence from the original Rockythat has served as one of its calling cards ever since.
20th Century Fox (most)
James Francis Kelly