Recently retired from fighting due to the risk to his health, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) takes on Mickey’s old boxing gym and begins to train Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), an up-and-coming boxer with a lot of potential. Rocky’s focus on Tommy though begins to put his personal life at risk.
The scenes of Rocky V with Rocky’s shaking hands and then him and Adrian (Talia Shire) receiving his prognosis about his brain injuries are brilliant. The opening especially is a chance to see Rocky vulnerable in a way we’d not seen before and showed how strong his and Adrian’s relationship is. With that setup it’s easy to presume that Rocky V will go a more serious and different route to we’ve seen before in this series so it’s then a shame that his ill health is barely mentioned again and doesn’t have a real impact on the plot.
Instead, you have Rocky taking in Tommy, and putting all his focus and love on him as they share the love and skills for boxing, while ignoring his son. It’s easy to see why Rocky is like this at least to begin with but his family has seemingly always meant more to him than boxing or titles so it’s not enjoyable seeing him put someone he’s just met onto a pedestal to the detriment to his loved ones.
While the Rocky films have always been underdog stories, often showing the tough life Rocky has had, they’ve also always had some fun to them. Rocky V doesn’t have that fun element. Too much of it is a downer on Rocky and his family. They lose their house and money, Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone) feels replaced in his father’s eyes by Tommy, and Rocky struggles to balance his love for the sport and his love for his family. And Paulie (Burt Young) is continuing to be his cantankerous and somewhat irresponsible self.
Sylvester Stallone still gives a great performance and is probably the thing that kept me somewhat interested throughout this slog of a film. I’ve seriously been impressed with him when watching this franchise as I’ve always been under the impression that he may give the odd great performance but generally isn’t a good actor. Overall, Rocky V is just very predictable and not that exciting, Stallone’s performance and the final fight are the only worthwhile things about this film and even then, it feels like that’s being quite generous. 2/5.