DIRECTED BY SYLVESTER STALLONE
STARRING: SYLVESTER STALLONE, BURT YOUNG, ANTONIO CARVER, MILO VENTIMIGLIA, GERALDINE HUGHES, TONY BURTON and TALIA SHIRE
“Ain’t nothing’s over till it’s over.” Sylvester Stallone couldn’t have said more about the film than by just making it. And ‘Rocky Balboa’ could be no clearer than the fight it carries that it’s no last gasp for breath. A striking metaphor, a sweet parallel with the veteran’s distinctively obvious, real-life angst that he’s got enough of the fight in him for one last shot – and that he’s not going to let it be a tease or a soporific recollection, but a full-blooded blow. The stage is set, and the result - obvious; but that doesn't mean one shouldn't take strike, does it?
There really is not much to talk about this film, there’s barely anything new but it’s all in good faith. It’s a return for those who grew up in those suburbs, who ran up the steps with the campaigner and celebrated his leap at the Town Hall. It’s a jab in the gut, maybe even a low-blow for us youngsters who contrive this belief that a shot is only as good as we take it to be – to a generation that’s almost completely lost it in the only genuine human instinct that is to retaliate; to respond to stimulus. It’s a lesson learned, not one forgotten, for no one’s teaching it anymore. And he sensed the void, this man who once taught it, and he’s back not to up the game but to show us how it’s really played.
A sincere exposition of the man behind the man, not to mention the man himself. Rocky Balboa plays the hand he’s got – one of lead, with a solid arm to back it up with. And so does Sylvester Stallone.
But I thought the fight needed more emphasis, it was more or less the whole film. It’s technically both the bang as well as the silence before it, I thought we could have used more detail without touching the time. That’s like ten sets of three with a few minutes in between, and give a few, take a few, I thought we were looking at a half-hour in the bag for sure. Speaking of which, in the forecasted power-game, lasting all ten rounds made me a little too skeptical. We know the horse saves its whinnies for a hard drop-kick, but I couldn’t see it to the finish line, especially since we know it’s not just a horse but a carriage now. And no, I’m definitely not criticizing the victory, which is but the man’s symbolic representation that he’s at ease with those around him and that he was merely grabbing an opportunity that was given to him in the first place, with all respect that he happened to command. Something explained in the pat-on-the-back he gives his competitor in the end, a nice little thumbs-up to carry on with the good work, a ‘thanks for your time’ and a sigh of relief that clearly says “That’s it, I’m done.”
So yeah, that’s it. I’d have liked a shorter, sensible fight, a longer run, a relapse of ‘the Eye of the Tiger’ and he didn’t even jump up the steps this time! Well, maybe that’s a shame, but the film isn’t. Rocky Balboa stands tall amidst the ruins he left himself in, a sculpture at his best but definitely not of body-art. He’s 217 pounds of ‘solid’.