Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Director: Ryan Coogler
Running Time: 133 mins
Creed is an American film about the story of Adonis Johnson, who travels from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional boxer like his father, Apollo Creed, and in the process meets legendary fighter Rocky Balboa, who agrees to train him.
This is so much better than the original Rocky. That may have been an iconic underdog story, but Creed not only pays homage to Rocky, it creates an emotionally investing story that develops and becomes more and more captivating as it moves along, all building to an astonishing finale, furthered by the two amazing central performances and incredible directing from Ryan Coogler.
There’s so much to say about this film, but first, I want to talk about how it links in to the rest of the Rocky franchise, and manages to do so successfully. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, the son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed, who Rocky fought at the end of the first movie.
Now, it would have been incredibly easy to just rehash the same underdog story that this series has done six times already, and whilst this film does indeed take on a similar format to Rocky leading up to its finale, it’s done more as a homage rather than a copy, and there’s actually a lot more going on beyond the sports story that makes this so much more interesting.
Yes, the climax (which revolves around a big underdog fight) is very similar, but it’s not only exciting and fun to watch, it also packs an emotional punch that, to some extent, the original Rocky didn’t. That’s because the build-up over the course of the first hour and forty-five minutes of this film is so impressive.
The film really delves deep into the character of Adonis Johnson, and as he became a more and more determined person, just like Rocky and his father, I felt really connected to his character, and so willing to support him when it came to the big fight. But also, the way that this film deals with Rocky’s character is brilliant.
They could have made an aged Rocky either really grumpy and unable to do anything, or made him an Expendables-like Superman that wouldn’t have been at all believable. However, in this film, Rocky Balboa is a real person, and we haven’t seen that since the original. But in Creed, Rocky is mature, knowledgeable and intelligent, and despite clearly being in the autumn years of his life, I was much more interested and impressed by Rocky in this movie.
The characters are of course fantastically written, but you also have to recognise the brilliance of the two lead actors. Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Adonis Johnson, expertly pulling off the physical side to the role whilst also brilliantly keeping in touch with the more tender, emotional story that runs alongside the boxing plot.
And Sylvester Stallone is right at the top of his game; he’s really good. To see him back in his most iconic role is one thing, but for him to play it in such an understated and intelligent way was particularly impressive, and I was absolutely delighted to see that.
But the stand-out from this movie, by a long way, is Ryan Coogler’s directing. From start to finish, I felt a real sense of energy emanating from the screen while watching Creed. This may be a sports movie, but for the most part, it’s just Adonis and Rocky talking about building up to the big fight, and yet Coogler makes even those scenes so fascinating and investing to watch, which is something that I felt the original Rocky really didn’t do.
And finally, the direction of the fighting sequences is astonishing. The big, final fight is absolutely spectacular, and the visuals really emphasise the emotional importance of that scene, but there’s one fight earlier on that really stood out to me, where Coogler takes on a two minute plus long take that weaves in and out of the fighters, and keeps rolling between the rounds. I thought it was so spectacular, I had my jaw dropped at the end of that scene, so credit where credit’s due for Coogler.
Overall, Creed is an excellent movie, with two brilliant central performances that work perfectly in tandem with an exciting and emotionally investing screenplay, all brought together in stunning fashion by director Ryan Coogler, and that’s why I’ll give this an 8.5.