Ryan Coogler's acclaimed debut feature Fruitvale Station (2013) dramatized the real-life police killing of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man, at the title subway stop hours after San Franciscans rang in the year 2009. Given the heightened consciousness of police violence against African-Americans, Fruitvale Station seems more timely now than when it came out, yet the writer-director's sophomore effort is—get this—a Rocky sequel, with Michael B. Jordan (who played the victim in Fruitvale) as Adonis Creed, son of Rocky's old opponent Apollo, and Sylvester Stallone bringing back his signature palooka, who becomes the younger man's trainer and corner man, nearly a decade after the supposedly conclusive Rocky Balboa (2006). Coogler wrote the movie; Stallone produced. Will this bizarre marriage of convenience, giving a black filmmaker from Oakland entree to Warner Bros. and a 69-year-old action hero one more chance to milk his best-loved role, yield the year's biggest turkey? Or will the Rocky cycle—at nearly 40 years, the oldest surviving Hollywood franchise—be reborn as an African-American story?
Opens 11/25, general release