starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger and Jon Bernthal
screenplay by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman
directed by Peter Segal
Two aging light heavyweight boxing champions from 1980s Pittsburg, U.S.A. have lived the last thirty years in bitterness over their post-boxing lives. And boxing fans’ dream of a never-held rematch of their last fight is always hanging in the air, tempting them out of retirement with an attractive money lure. But the two men hate each other with cosmic animosity. It’s the kind of animosity you expect only to read about in Norse mythology. It’s extraordinary that two old tough guys can hold on to a grudge so much - for so long and so deeply. Finally, however, economic circumstances and money reach the point when the two finally agree. Robert DeNiro (the Kid) is the more aggressive of the two. Sylvester Stallone (Razor) is a quieter, more contemplative man and he’s clearly in better physical shape. But Razor’s Achilles heel is that he’s been accidentally blinded in one eye in a post-boxing workplace accident. That makes him a sitting duck for the still powerful blows of the less muscular Kid.
Stallone and DeNiro are famous for starring in the most famous boxing movies of modern times: Stallone’s Rocky franchise (1976, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1990, 2006), and DeNiro’s Raging Bull (1980, directed by Martin Scorsese). (Raging Bull has gone down as one of the greatest modern films, although at the time it had only limited commercial success. Its commercial problems were probably bound up in the trouble that the United Artists studio was going through at the time with the horrible Heaven’s Gate fiasco which nearly bankrupted the company.)
Alan Arkin plays Razor’s aging trainer, Lightning. He’s even worse - I mean more colorful - than Burgess Meredith was as Mickey in the early Rocky movies. Alan Arkin plays a great grumpy old man. He’s a disgusting grumpy old man. In the film he’s so grumpy and disgusting that he gets expelled from his retirement home and has to go live with Razor.
There was a certain amount of cleverness to the story. They don’t hesitate to poke fun at themselves with allusions to Rocky. If a viewer is unfamiliar with the Rocky and Raging Bull movies then they won’t pick up on the humorous allusions. For people like me, these films are so famous that many aspects of them have entered into the popular culture and I know it because I pay attention to things. But unfortunately, most people are not very familiar with … well, with anything. The script is overflowing with geriatric wisecracks. Not even funny geriatric jokes, just crass, ugly, foul-mouthed wisecracks that are supposed to be funny. They aren’t. They’re mostly just annoying. In the final scene I was surprised but delighted to see Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield sitting together in a joint cameo, discussing their own possible grudge rematch. (Remember, in one of the most infamous events in modern sports history, it was one of Evander Holyfield’s ears that Tyson partially bit off in their rematch fight in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997. I remember that, too, without even having to look it up on Wikipedia.)