Sixth installment in the popular Rocky franchise - a full 30 years after the first introduction of the young back street brawler from Philly. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is now a 50-something widower after the death of his beloved Adrian. His relationship with his son (Milo Ventimiglia) has also deteriorated and Rocky finds his only solace in the stories he recounts to the customers who visit his deli. However, everything is about to change as a 'what if' debate emerges as to whether current champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon (Antonio Tarver) would have beaten Rocky in his prime. Nobody ever suspects that the match might actually happen, given the 30-year age difference. However, when Dixon's management sets up an exhibition fight, the gauntlet is well and truly thrown down and an enthusiastic Rocky grasps it with both hands. The 'Italian Stallion' re-applies for his license, rounds up the old gang and sets off on the arduous journey to regain his long-lost fitness and ability.
The sixth installment of the Rocky
series picks up the story of the Italian Stallion 16 years after the morose Rocky V
. And sure, at his advanced age, Sylvester Stallone now looks like one of those sides of beef his character used to pound on. No matter. Somehow you buy the premise after all these years, even if it takes forever for Rocky Balboa
to stop wallowing in self-pity (Adrian is dead, his old haunts are demolished) and get down to the business of drinking raw eggs and running up staircases. The business at hand is an unlikely exhibition fight with champeen Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), which the near-sexagenarian Mr. Balboa has no business accepting. Of course, just as sure as the horns of Bill Conti's theme music are even now trumpeting through your head, the ol' Rock might have a punch or two left in him. Stallone wrote and directed, and there isn't much to say except that the movie steps in its pre-determined paces with a canny sense of what has come before (it's practically an homage to all the previous Rocky
pictures, complete with fleeting flashbacks). Burt Young is around again, and Geraldine Hughes makes an appealing, rather chaste female companion for Rocky. Stallone's Rocky has gotten suspiciously articulate over the years, but he still knows how to slouch. If Stallone never forgets that, he can probably keep the franchise rolling. --Robert Horton