A spin-off/sequel that managed to deliver all the key facets of the franchise and resulted in the best film of the series since “Rocky”.
“CREED” follows the story of a young man living in the shadows of his late father, and in trying to make a name for his own, he enlists former Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa to train and mentor him.
There are few people that have not seen Sylvester Stallone don the gloves in the squared circle. His in-the-ring action has culminated in some of the most climactic sports moments in cinema. While there has been some less than impressive entries in the series I actually really enjoyed “Rocky Balboa” in 2006. With the news of “Creed” coming to theaters my anticipation was naturally high but I was slightly apprehensive about how good the movie would actually be.
Much to my delight this was an excellent film all around and easily the best since “Rocky”. The story was very well thought out and filled with great writing which created characters that effortlessly pull you in, as well as creating a somber continuation of Stallone’s famous role. The film took a big chance in letting the lead go to someone else other than Stallone and with the emotionally charged performance of Michael B. Jordan, it turned out to be a brilliant move.
Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) crafted a very polished film and in teaming with Jordan once again, the two created a dramatic film that under its lining was much more than a simple boxing movie. Yes, there are many of the elements that make a boxing film, the training montages, motivational speeches, being knocked down and getting back up – but there was much more to this script and all of the layers blended perfectly together.
At its root this film was about a son without a father figure, and a man that had accomplished it all, and was left with little else to do with his existence. The script does a great job of detailing these sub-plots and with the strong chemistry between Jordan and Stallone the result is as dramatic as intended without ever seeming forced.
Stallone was amazing in his smaller performance and he was able to bring some levels of emotion to the character I have not seen from him. There is no doubt he knows the role of Rocky Balboa, he created the persona and it has been a mainstay his in his career for decades, but he felt much more vulnerable in this film than any other, and it was nothing short of compelling.
Despite everything going on in the film there were subtle moments where I watched his character and his current state of life and I found myself thinking back over the past films contemplating the life this character had, and how he had come full circle from rags, to riches, only to find himself living the life of solace he did in the 1976 classic. For me this only fueled the thought provoking plots that made up the fabric of the script. It is a testament to the quality of the writing when the viewer can reflect back over a mans boxing career as if it was a real biography, not the continued development of a fictional character.
Despite everything that this film had to offer in terms of story-telling and character performances this was still a boxing film at heart and that aspect was only another of the elements Coogler nailed with perfection. The boxing cinematography was beautiful and without over Hollywood-izing the action Coogler created some pulse pounding in-the-ring action.
Jordan was in excellent condition and there was no denying his skill in bringing the role the physicality and attitude needed to pull off the full intention. He captured the hunger an determination of a young fighter and at the same time the emotional torment of a young man trying to find his place, or where he fits in to the world. Jordan overall felt every bit the part of an up-and-coming boxer, making the role his own, and I would not be surprised to see this film carryover into sequels of their own.
In the end “Creed” was a knockout success and one of the better films I have seen this year. It was easily the best film since “Rocky” and brought the franchise one of its most well thought scripts. Stallone was flawless in his persona of the humbled Balboa and Jordan again delivers a performance to validate him as one of Hollywood’s bright rising stars.
I highly recommend this film to sit back and appreciate all the franchise has accomplished over the years. Many moments will tug on your heart strings and lure your complete attention, while the beautifully captured boxing action will have you on the edge of your seat. “Creed” will take you on a complete journey of the world this franchise has created, there will be moments to remind you of days past, as well as a emotional introduction to the next direction of the story-line, post Balboa.
– Starring –
Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Tony Bellew, Phylicia Rashad, Ritchie Coster, Wood Harris, Graham McTavish
– Directed By –
Time: 133 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For violence, language and some sexuality)