The past 5 or so years the money men of Hollywood have exploited the good nature of cinephiles from every possible angle thanks to cashing in on established franchises. Many of them suffered knockout blows, others pass and go, Creed may not be an outright sequel to Rocky but a farewell to a screen legend.
It’s amazing to think it’s been 10 years since the underrated Rocky Balboa graced our cinematic hearts and in today’s cinematic climate this could have been a sign of pure desperation.This could have been a set up for Rocky to release his own range of lean mean grilling machines ala George Foreman. Thankfully they chose to step back let an up and coming director (Ryan Coogler) and it’s leading you rising charismatic actor (Michael B.Jordan) take the reigns.
We know Rocky plays an important part in Creed but for those who don’t know might want to raid their dad’s or older brothers DVD collection. Rocky Balboa franchise delivered a rag to riches story, an iconic Bill Conti Score (in this modernised), Eye of the tiger, 6 films and Oscar nomination which help launch Sly Stallone’s career. He is a product of the streets of Philadelphia, 1976 a working-class young man with hopes and dreams, to become the greatest boxer and 40 years the legacy lives on.
In Creed we meet Adonis Johnson (Jordan), an up and coming boxer on a rapid ascent to the top of the light-heavyweight boxing, secretly boxing over the border in Mexico. In dirty joint and in the day working in an office I high-end jobs he quits, by-passing every opportunity that comes his way, for what? His only dream that people who love him don’t want him to take those steps, boxing. Adonis Johnson is the illegitimate son of Rocky’s old adversary and longtime old friend Apollo Creed. Packing his page leaving his comfortable life in Los Angeles he heads to Philadelphia to follow his dream. Convince the one person who knows who knows the score and most of all his father…Rocky Balboa, who reluctantly agrees to help him.
Many agreed why Creed was not called Rocky 7? simple reason as Rocky is now the teacher, the mentor his trainer. Stallone maybe taking a back seat in this film but looking back this is his best role in a very long time which helps to unleash one thing he didn’t realise he had dramatic acting chops. This also gives Creed a seal of authenticity, a reason why this films feels many parts of the Rocky franchise as well as solid enough to be it’s own entity too. Director Coogler (and Jordan) was still a twinkle in his father’s eye encaptures a genuine bond even if at times threatens to simply be a retelling of the original film.
Jordan portrays the charismatic nature and cockiness like Adonis father Apollo. Determined, passionate, flamboyant who comfortably talk the talk to create his own legacy to match or even better his father’s footsteps. Coogler has found his perfect lead man in Jordan who will regularly work with each other learning the trade as well as learning from those mistakes they will make to become better at their craft. It’s just amazing to think this is only the filmmaker’s second film (debut been Fruitvale Station, also with Jordan).
Creed has a lot of poignancy, urgency in and out the ring, whilst in the ring the punches are genuine, you feel Rocky is still fighting in his own battles….tired, battered. Its a profound heart felt performance that deserves the Oscar nomination from Stallone whose like a window of what will be in the future if Creed continues his boxing glory.
These type of films play on the truelife racial, social status as its main focus and Creed does scratch the surface . It’s true focus is all about living in the legacy of someone else and the attempt to step out of the shadow to be your own person.
Creed is not a ‘fan service’ nostalgia ride which some excuse Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be , however the film does have the touches, sights and sounds original franchise fans will expect. It will keep them smiling whilst intriguing a new generation fans , who will want to find out who is Adrian?!
Paul Devine | ★★★★
Drama, Sport | USA, 2016 | 15 | Warner Bros. | 15th January 2016 (UK) | Dir.Ryan Coogler | Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew | Win Creed Pack