The original rocky is an acclaimed classic. A movie that garnered Oscars in the year of its release (1976) and to this day is classified as one of, if not the, best boxing movie of all time. The sequels that succeeded it never managed to capture anywhere near the first film’s “tough-as-nails” heart and spirit. So, as a spin-off of the franchise that launched Sylvester Stallone’s career, can Creed hold a candle to its firmly set rock solid roots?
The premise follows a distinctly familiar plotline. Apollo Creed’s son Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (played by Michael B. Jordan) starts out as a young tearaway, mainly due to the absence of his father in his life, and soon lands himself in the LA youth detention center. As the years roll on and life seems to offer little in return, he decided to pick up the mantle of his dad and take up professional boxing, much to the dismay of his mother (and still grieving over the death of her husband). However, serious and determined as he is in becoming the world's greatest, Donnie contacts his father’s old rival and friend, Rocky. After some convincing, he begins to train Donnie. After a succession of wins, he gains the attention of light heavyweight champion Ricky Conlan (played by Anthony Bellew, real life boxing champion) and that sets the scene for one of the biggest fights in movie history.
Now, there were a few directions they could have taken this. One would be an all-out boxing-based action movie with a more “rough and ready” approach, like several of Rocky’s prior sequels. Another would be creating a script that focuses more on character development than over-the-top brawls to connect with audiences on a more personal level. Well, the studios chose to go with the latter and I’m happy to say they’ve produced a movie so profound and captivating, it potentially rivals even the original masterpiece made over four decades ago. This is one incredible piece of film-making from start to dramatic finish. Director Ryan Kyle Coogler has really outdone himself on every conceivable benchmark in the genre. One scene of particular note is where Donnie fights an early opponent in the ring and the entire scene appears to be shot in one take. Unbelievable camera work and clever use of digitized effects make for a thrilling spectacle never before put down on film in a such a way. Mesmerizing stuff in it’s utter ingenuity and execution.
The acting by the entire cast is off the damn charts. Sylvester Stallone has never given a performance like this in years. Being a seasoned old-school veteran now, Sly (unlike his arch nemesis Arnold Schwarznegger) has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s still got it when it comes to delivering Oscar-worthy brilliance on screen. But the real crowning achievement must go to Michael B. Jordan. Whilst some may argue that Sly already had previous experience in regards to slotting into the role of his now almost alter-ego, Jordan is but an upcoming star. “Star” being the operative word. This performance alone will send his career into the stratosphere. The conflict raging within him, the bond soon forged between himself and Rocky. It’s all the stuff of Hollywood gold and I consider it an honour for both men to have graced such an instant classic such as this.
In a nutshell, Creed is the perfect swansong for the franchise as a whole (though I have heard rumours of there being a second instalment on it’s way). Regardless, Creed deserved every bit of praise heaped onto this blinder of a movie. The script, cinematography, choreography, passion and soul contained within, is undeniable. I loved every second of it as I’m sure you will too. It simply doesn’t get much better than this.