For all intents and purposes, Creed is Rocky 7. Let me get that out of the way right now. It’s a way for the legacy that Sylvester Stallone started in 1976. However, it would be a mistake to be put off by the late stage number of this franchise. Under the direction of director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Creed delivers with force that has not been seen since the first two Rocky films.
Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Fantastic Four) reteaming with Coogler plays Adonis Johnson – the out of wedlock son of Rocky’s former rival-turned-friend, Apollo Creed. From the start, you see young Johnson angry that he didn’t know his father. He was saved from a troubled childhood by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad). Now grown and hungry to make a name for himself, Johnson refuses to use his famous surname, starting to fight down in Mexico before making his way to Philadelphia. He finds the retired boxer-turned-restaurant owner Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and begs him to train him. After initially refusing, the aging Italian Stallion’s reluctance melts as he sees that Adonis reminds him of the young kid reminds him of himself back when he was a hungry but no-hope southpaw looking for an opportunity. Under Balboa’s tutelage, Johnson finds what he has been looking for when the opportunity presents itself.
Now, I’m not saying that Creed is any different from other boxing movies. It’s as formulaic and sentimental as you’d expect any Rocky movie to be, but Jordan and Stallone (looser and more vulnerable than he’s been in 30 years) provide the film with fire and soul and an undeniable, emotional intensity. Stallone’s performance has been critically acclaimed and earning him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor along with rumors of a possible Oscar nod. I think it’s due to the maturity and self-confidence that Stallone has not been able to show in previous films.
Overall, Creed is a film about fathers and legacy for both Johnson and Balboa. It more than preserves the legacy of the Rocky franchise and it reminds you of what made the movie great in the first place. I definitely consider it to be one of the year’s best films and a possible underdog for best film once the Oscar nominations are announced.