Tom Hanks, in a part starring Tom Cruise, plays Rocky Balboa, the new "skinny" boxing champion, whose once-stunning winning streak is interrupted by a bout with a hulking bully, who sends him to the hospital. With the help of Dr. Conrad Stone (Sylvester Stallone), a former boxer who now works as a doctor, Rocky takes on the bully, who, after injuring his eye, flees the scene.
As the movie progresses, Rocky regains his strength and emerges from the hospital to take on yet another opponent. However, the villain, named Anthony Mackie's Tower, escapes from prison and wreaks havoc on the boxing world, eventually catching Rocky by surprise, breaking his nose and sending him back to the hospital. However, while he is recuperating, he is visited by "a human billboard" who introduces herself as Gloria Swanson (Sarah Paulson), an orphan with the ability to turn people into living billboards.
When the woman explains that she was thrown out of her home and taken in by a gangster, a beautiful and wealthy lady in a black dress becomes interested in Tower. She asks Rocky to help her find the identity of the man who has been targeting her. However, when the woman takes him hostage, Rocky snaps and battles with Tower in a series of high speed car chases. Eventually, the police arrive and arrest Rocky for reckless driving, while Tower escapes.
Enraged by his defeat, Tower transforms himself into a giant monster and attacks the hospital, abducting Rocky and assaulting Gloria, who is now called "Mr. Towers." In the end, Rocky realizes that he must defeat Tower in order to save Gloria and finally beat the bully at his own game.
While the story development was well-handled and compelling, the movie was little more than a gimmick. A real boxing movie would have utilized a series of elaborate fight sequences and professional actors to create a truly exciting movie.
For a better fighter than Rocky Balboa, we would have expected to see one of the better boxing movies in recent years, one featuring some great scenes of spectacular knockout victories, for example, or one featuring the sometimes painful action of prolonged one-on-one match between two fighters. Instead, the film showcased the usual rock 'em, sock 'em type of game that has become so common today.
There were times that I thought the writer of the script-in-progress-had it all figured out and that perhaps he/she had always dreamed of writing a movie of this caliber, but there were other times that I laughed at the movie-in-progress-and wondered what it had come to because, after all, the movie was set in New York City and, as we all know, New York City is actually a well-realized city. The film didn't have to have been set in New York City; I have traveled all over New York City and there are no scenes of high-speed car chases or hi-jinks. But the script didn't get the New York City feels and didn't live up to its potential.
Overall, the movie has aged well, but not in a good way. A better movie to watch would be The Natural or Anything by Luc Besson or Jean-Claude Van Damme.