-Posted by Alyssa
The franchise that keeps on jabbing delivers a sucker punch to the audience’s heart in the Italian Stallion’s final bow.
Rocky Balboa (Stallone) is officially retired from the ring after his brain-damaging stint against the Soviet’s lethal machine Ivan Drago. However, that doesn’t stop money-hungry managers from trying to get him back into the sport. Meanwhile, a young hopeful named Tommy Gunn (Morrison) begs Balboa to work as his mentor. This opportunity with Gunn is an opportunity to be involved in the profession that he so loves without risking any serious consequences. Not to mention it feels good to be relevant again considering that his brother-in-law Paulie (Young) caused the family to lose all of their money. Balboa is excited about his new protégée. They win match after match and prove to be a really strong team. The problem is Balboa’s mentorship with Gunn causes him to neglect his wife Adrian (Shire) and son Rocky Jr. (Stallone) who is going through a tough transition from riches to rags. This tense dynamic changes when a greedy manager with a fur coat (Gant) sinks his claws into Gunn. Having dollar signs in his bright eyes, Tommy develops the moniker “Machine,” has a beautiful woman on his arm, and buys a new car. With Gunn’s newfound fame and fortune, Balboa is left in the dust.
The steam is clearly running out in this franchise so the victory isn’t as meaningful. This is especially true considering that the opponent isn’t some war machine or smack-talking contender, but rather a person that Balboa genuinely cared about. I think this addition seemed to lose its eye on the prize. It also lost sight of the heart that makes this franchise so noteworthy in the history of cinema.