Creed (2015)

Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Sylvester Stallone, USA. 2h m

After the Rocky franchise boiled down to the beat up old man, Balboa (2006) reclaimed some of the old school Rocky glory once again for Stallone, who’s been going through some kind of midlife crisis pumping out the Expendables (2010)as if they are going out of fashion, and considering most of the cast can’t be taken all that serious anymore they are kinda out of fashion but they are fun, entertaining and raking in the cash, he touched base with a more violent older and chunky Rambo and now he’s back to Rocky to re live another chapter. It’s beautiful that he still has the heart and passion for this character and films but he seems to want to hold on to that hero baton rather than pass it on.

This emotive drama mirrors the arc of the original Rocky, there’s a humble boxer his mentor and the woman he adores who is his sound conscience and his rock. Having made the same base creed then plays around with these ideas, sometimes swinging a left hook and surprising us other times copying from the original. But after so many Rocky movies it’s not too difficult to predict which turn the movie is taking next, but this doesn’t mean that some scenes aren’t powerful enough for the viewers to not want to cheer this new hero on.

Creed beings with a young Adonis Johnson (Jordan) fighting in a juvenile hall, while being visited by Apollo Creeds widow, Mary Anne (Rashad), a fiercely strong woman who adopts the boy and raises him as her own. Adonis is the son of Apollo and his mistress and feels overshadowed by his father’s reputation but secretly takes up boxing despite the disapproval of his mother. Stepping out of this white collar job and moving to Philly he hounds Rocky to train him. While stalking Rocky he meets an incredibly noisy and beautiful neighbour, a singer named Bianca (Thompson)who’s slowly going deaf but the pair understand each other and hook up, a much smoother process than with Rocky and Adrian. Rocky isn’t interested in fighting anymore, he gives the boy a few tips and goes back to his life as a restaurateur and a mourning husband, but as he talks about missing his son and discovers that Adonis is Creeds son, his resolves slowly breaks down and they get to work and the training montages start to take over.

It’s at this point that the essence of Rocky takes over, it’s about the losses that you bounce back from, the struggle is real, being honest, doing the right thing, dedication and love, Rocky doesn’t find the words for until his second film but it’s there in the first and it’s back with Creed. A young man who’s not hungry for the title, not to be his father but to be his best. And of course you can’t have a Rocky film without the Big Speech, which comes after rock receives some tragic news but lets not spoil the fun, but it’s at this point that the challenge becomes real for both men, and this is the point when you realise this film is as much as Rocky as is it about Creed. Stallone’s inability to let go makes this film more about him than the star, at no point was Rocky about Mickey and Burgess Meredith was a much more established and powerful actor, I really wish there had been a movie about his character and how he got to be such a superb trainer.

While Adonis.. aka Donnie trains and runs in the streets just like his hero in the iconic grey tracksuit, his attracts the adoration of little African American faces and while Creed is a hero for all races he really could have been a new black role model but it doesn’t seem to have taken that way, mostly because Rocky is still the hero for now.

Really this is just a Rocky retelling but without as much grime and fire as before, with the lack of feisty characters like Paulie and Mickey the film just feels a bit soft and fluffy but with more dynamic fighting scenes and possibly a lot more realistic effects of the bruising and blood the edge is still there but hopefully in the second movie it will come out swinging from the first ding ding!

Rating 5/10

R – Rocky (1976), Southpaw (2015), Jawbone (2017)
L – Fighter Films,
5s – Sylvester Stallone Films

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