Creed is an example of emotional excellence in film. A case in a director letting the characters do all the heavy lifting to engage the audience. My wife at the time we saw Creed had never seen a Rocky movie and she was on the edge of her seat. I know it was announced as a spin-off, but Creed is a Rocky movie through and through.
Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis, the son of an extramarital affair of boxer Apollo Creed. The film starts with us meeting a Adonis as a child in a juvenile facility. This scene is very effective as we see how rough it can be for youths in this situation. He is soon adopted by Apollo’s widow Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). Adonis has a job working at a securities firm that he steps away from to pursue his dream of becoming a boxer. His travels take him to Philadelphia where he seeks out his father’s friend and former rival Rocky Balboa. Once word get outs about Adonis’ parentage and he gets a shot to take on the Heavyweight champ similar to Rocky 40 years earlier, he aspires to make his own legacy and not be considered a mistake.
I really enjoyed Creed from start to finish. Director Ryan Coogler really knew how to let the things that were established in previous films, work their way into this and do the heavy lifting. The proof is in the performances. Michael B. Jordan I feel will be a future leading man in this industry. He effectively showcases a range of emotions that range across anger, fear, confusion, hurt, nervousness, concern and joy. Yet not once does it feel that he’s all over the place. The emotions are in line with what he’s going through in the story. Sylvester Stallone gives Rocky Balboa the perfect evolution of his character as he takes on Adonis as a protege similar to when Apollo helped Rocky when he was down. I also have to give props to Tessa Thompson who played Bianca. As a young woman who is dealing with an obstacle in her own life, she played well off Jordan and their romance feels real and believable.
Another thing that Coogler does very effective is make Philadelphia a character just as John G. Avildsen did in the original Rocky. As a native of Philly it makes my heart soar to see my home on the big screen. I looked wide eyed as location were mentioned and icons were seen as well as locales that folks outside the city wouldn’t know. And to top it off, the world was introduced to the Philly slang word “jawn.” I now know how people felt when they saw Rocky in 1976.
One final note. This movie is not a spin-off as described, but really is a part of the Rocky series. I feel this series was a 3 act story for Balboa. Rocky 1&2 were the journey to be champion. Rocky 3&4 is the struggles and responsibility of being champion. Rocky V & Rocky Balboa is life after champion. Creed is a sequel and natural reboot. Rocky’s story is closed. Adonis’ story is just beginning.
Creed is one of my favorite films of this year. Fantastic performances as well as some great boxing action. This film drives itself off of emotion and it fires on all cylinders in that regard.
Final Score: Five out of Five