It’s astounding that Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky Balboa has managed to be the source of at least one new movie for the last four decades, and what’s even more impressive is that this latest entry (which functions as both spin-off and sixth sequel to the 1976 classic) is probably the best since the original. Stallone himself carries the weighty gravitas of a life lived believably hard as an aged, battered Balboa, and he’s extremely well matched by Michael B. Jordan. While their roles are entirely different, Jordan approaches his role (as Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son striving for a distinct identity) with a palpable intensity that recalls Stallone’s in the original, effectively communicating the riveting depths of his focus and dedication, which has the benefit of updating the original’s themes without repeating the same beats we’ve already seen countless times before. Unfortunately it’s held back from greatness thanks to an unfortunate two hour-plus running time that feels about 30 minutes too long, with several unnecessary scenes in the middle portion that, while well-acted, written and directed, come perilously close to testing the audience’s patience. But ultimately, it’s totally worth watching, even if only for nostalgia’s sake.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)