Genre: Drama, Sport
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Who knew that there was still life and energy left in the Rocky franchise? Who knew that there were new angles to take, new stories to tell within this universe? Director Ryan Coogler, that’s who.
Creed tells the story of Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan in a star making turn), the offspring of the late Apollo Creed, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighters of his generation, as so many of the film’s news outlets point out. Much like the father he never knew, Adonis harbours dreams of becoming a champion and forging his own legacy in the ring.
And so Adonis heads to Philadelphia with the hope of being trained by his father’s friend and former opponent, Rocky Balboa, who having hung up his gloves at the end of 2006’s Rocky Balboa, now spends his days running his restaurant and visiting the graves of his long deceased family. Reluctantly, Rocky takes the young Adonis under his wing and it isn’t long before the former champ sees something special in the son of his late friend.For all those familiar with boxing movies and indeed the Rocky movies in general, you can probably take an educated guess as to where the plot goes from here. In fact, anyone who’s seen the trailer can pretty much predict how the story plays out. But that doesn’t diminish in any way the spark, energy and life force that Coogler injects into it. Along with co-writer, Aaron Covington, Coogler takes the template of so many and fashions an engaging and highly emotional journey for his characters.
Adonis is a suitably conflicted and relatable figure, a young man out to escape the shadow of his father and forge his own destiny, whilst Balboa (a wonderfully understated Stallone) is a man forged by his past with his own battles to fight. Coogler and Covington’s love for these characters is evident and, along with his two leads, brings out the heart and emotional heft in their plight. Tessa Thompson meanwhile, shows everyone why she should be a bigger star than she is as singer/songwriter Bianca, who brings a warmth and depth to a role that could’ve easily been just another ‘love interest’ role.The fight scenes themselves are gripping. Maryse Alberti’s cinematography immerses you in the action itself; every punch is felt and every spray of blood flies off the screen. And that’s even before I’ve mentioned the standout one shot fight sequence. Coogler and his team have great affection for the Rocky series and, much like Adonis himself, storm ahead in forging their own legacy whilst honouring the legacy of what’s gone before.
It’s easy to see why Marvel were so quick at snapping up Coogler for Black Panther. After only two films, Coogler has established himself as a major talent who’s sure to reach the heights as one of the most revered mainstream directors of his generation. For while Creed may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the boxing movie, it sure as hell makes for one hell of a night out.