All that Stallone is doing is trying to escape with some dignity.
The only reason I can surmise that some critics are getting all excited about "Rocky Balboa" is that this last film is an improvement on the previous film, "Rocky V," which nobody liked and virtually nobody can even remember. However, no matter what anybody says, the idea that a 60-year-old man the size of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) could get in a ring with a legitimate heavyweight title holder is pure fantasy.
But, Rocky, you know, he has heart. It's also not exactly original that the retired Rocky owns a restaurant and spends his days entertaining the patrons. Jack Dempsey did the same thing basically. In fact, at one point in the movie Rocky is wearing a shirt that says "Dempsey" on it, further acknowledging that his film doesn't have an original thought in it. All that Stallone is doing is trying to escape with some dignity. Congratulations, Sylvester, I'll give you that one.
Personally, I thought anything short of Rocky dying in the ring was going to make this film a failure. That's what happens when 60-year-olds get into the ring. They get killed. Rocky is not George Foreman. Foreman is a huge man with a huge reach. Rocky takes punches to the head like a junkie needing a leather fix.
So Rocky owns his restaurant and laments Adrian's death and tries to reconnect with his son (Milo Ventimiglia). Then, a computer pits current champ Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver) against Rocky as if they were both in their prime and Rocky knocks Dixon out. This gives Dixon's people the idea to have an exhibition match, which is just the dumbest idea on the planet. Exactly what would a heavyweight champ, regardless of reputation, gain from fighting a 60-year-old? Answer: nothing. Either it's a pathetic fight or the 60-year-old swings wildly and connects and makes the champ look stupid.
Having followed boxing for some time, I've seen fights in which 35-year-olds very suddenly get over-the-hill. They just lose it. They don't have the reflexes necessary to react. Imagine what Rocky's reflexes would be like at 60 after all those shots to the head. By the time Rocky decided to counter one of Dixon's punches, Dixon could be on the way to his next fight.
So, what we're actually watching here is not a movie about any aspect of boxing, nor about a boxer. It's actually a film about a movie character who's larger-than-life and who needs a way out of a predicament caused by the four films that preceded this one, all of which were entirely unnecessary.
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