Rocky Balboa's Final Fight!
In Sylvester Stallone's latest and, potentially greatest, take on his seminal hero Rocky Balboa, the writer/director/actor scores big in the emotional clenches. These are the final moments of a great character so many people have come to know and love.
When I heard about the film getting green-lit with Sylvester Stallone in the starring role, I have to own up to some skepticism. I really didn't think Stallone could pull it off. I thought maybe he wouldn't have the chops physically or possibly be too emotionally close to the character and the lucrative franchise it became to take enough risks with the character.
Twenty minutes into the film, though, I was convinced that I was in for a comfortable, exciting, and emotional reunion and final meeting with a hero that's been in my life for thirty years. I saw Rocky when it came out. He and Burt Reynolds were the reasons I drove Trans Ams for ten years. Burt had Sally Field back then and jeans looked great on her, so maybe Burt had a little more influence.
Rocky's personal life has always been a series of tragedies. He was a bum from nowhere who got a shot in Rocky. He almost lost the woman of his dreams in Rocky II. He lost his trainer, Mickey, who was like a father to him in Rocky III. He lost one of his greatest friends, Apollo Creed, in Rocky IV. And in Rocky V, he lost everything and got kicked to the curb back in his old neighborhood while getting betrayed by a young boxer he was trying to help.
And in Rocky Balboa, he's lost Adrian. Knowing the character for as long as I did, I had to wonder what was left. His life appears comfortable, but it's empty. The tour he takes us on during those opening minutes of the film bear this out. His relationship with his son has gone south. More than anything, though, Rocky just doesn't know what to do with himself. When Adrian was alive, he could give up the fighting. He had her. Now he no longer has her and all he has is that restless drive to be inside a ring matched up against an opponent.
Stallone pays loving tribute to his character and graciously gives the fans a great story. It's not art. It's not always polished. What you've got here, folks, is myth, the stuff of good dreams. That's been enough for people since they first gathered around campfires to swap stories.