Movie Marathon: ‘Creed’
Kinda dropped the ball in the output there…rest assured I was watching Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise. Quite the diversion this one, with the focus shifting onto Apollo Creed’s son Adonis. I expected Rocky to be a bit part this time around but this movie does a surprising good job of continuing Rocky’s story. Let’s take a gander…
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Anthony Bellow, Graham McTavish
Plot: Young juvenile offender and orphan Adonis is given a fresh start when he discovers that he is the illegitimate son of famed boxer Adonis Creed. As he grows up he wants to enter the world of boxing but needs help from Rocky Balboa.
Review: There’s very little reason to expect this film to work. Everything sounds like a misstep for the studio. Bringing in a indie director whose only full length feature was politically and racially themed to revise a once great movie series with a new, young lead character and an ageing action star. They’re also bringing in a bunch of real life boxers to fill out the roles. What could go wrong?
Well…nothing as it turns out. This is a damn fine film. Perhaps this director could even go on to do something that breaks all the box office records records, you never know.
Michael B. Jordan is a very talented actor and whilst he has been acting professional in film and television since the late ’90s, he’s gone from extra to household name and the A-List in a few short films since Fruitville Station and Chronicle. He stumbled a bit with Fanfourstic but his excellent, heartfelt performances in both Creed and Black Panther have erased that from recent memory. Even more surprising is Stallone, who seems to be taking it easy lately with the shallow Expendables movies, doing his best work with the character we’ve ever seen.
Creed (Jordan) has been making some money fighting in unofficial matches but wants to break into the big leagues. To do this he needs and training and seeks out multiple heavyweight world champion Rocky Balboa (Stallone). Rocky initially turns him down, as he does all offers from the world of boxing, but his loyalty to his deceased friend wins out. During their intense training Rocky learns that he has cancer and turns down treatment feeling that he’s got little left to fight for. Upon learning this Creed storms out, angered that Rocky didn’t consider him important enough to think off as family (he’s no Tommy Gunn!). Eventually they reconnect and Creed goes toe-toe with the lightweight champion.
There’s pretty much no aspect of this movie that isn’t perfectly crafted. Even the love interest, a downstairs neighbour Bianca (Thompson), is a layered and interesting character. We’ve seen Thompson in a number of recent films (also Veronica Mars) and she’s certainly one to watch having proven herself in a range of different roles. Even Creed’s rival “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (real life boxer Anthony Bellow) is an interesting character to watch in his own right. Similar to Rocky he has a rags-to-riches background with a fiery temper about to serve prison time for weapon’s charges, and who broke an opponent’s jaw during a press conference. When Conlan and Creed face each other in the ring they both bring a great deal of anger to the fight and it quickly turns vicious.
It became a running joke that Rocky’s finales always followed the same pattern. Rocky takes a beating, it looks hopeless and then he makes a miracle recovery and wins. Creed takes a cue from the original movie and remembers that the title character does not need to win in order to prove himself. Although Creed doesn’t take the title he stays on his feet the entire match, earns his rival’s respect and gives him a real challenge. The entire film is suitable powerful even when we’ve seen this story play out before.
Between the writing, directing and performances this could easily be considered the best outing for Rocky, which is certainly fighting against the odds. The fact that it launches a new spin-off franchise is a bonus.
Rating: NINE out of TEN