For a long time now, fans have tolerated the twilight years of Robert De Niro's career like they were watching the meandering anecdotes of a beloved grandfather at a family get together.
Meet The Fockers… Righteous Kill… The Intern… The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle – ever since the turn of the millennium, we've been gritting our teeth as the greatest movie actor of the 70s and 80s churned out turkey after turkey, seemingly content just to still be working in his dotage. Never mind, we told ourselves, he's still Travis Bickle, still Jake LeMotta, still Vito Corleone in our hearts, all the time silently praying the old dog has one last good film in him.
We're not going to say Hands of Stone is that film. Not exactly. Not at this early stage. But the biopic of Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán – whose bouts with Sugar Ray Leonard cemented his place as one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever produced – can be met with cautious optimism.
De Niro plays Ray Arcel, the real-life trainer who oversaw 18 world champions including Durán, and is directed by promosing Venezuelan filmmaker Jonathan Jakubowicz whose debut Secuestro Express impressed critics around the world.
Like any boxing movie, Hands of Stone is sure to be inherently formulaic, and it's too soon to say whether De Niro's character is fleshed out beyond the standard motivator figure with the wet towel, but with positive reviews coming out the US and the promising trailer above, don't rule out an unexpected late round KO from Bobby just yet.