The Rocky franchise is a series of timeless movies. The underdog story is just as relevant today as it was when the first film came out in 1976. I still re-watch the old movies from time to time and find them very entertaining. Can Creed breath new live into the franchise, or will it hit the canvas in the first round?
Creed is part sequel to the previous movies and part spinoff. The story revolves around Adonis Johnson, Apollo his son, and we get just the right amount of Rocky Balboa sprinkled in the mix. But Stallone is definitely more of a supporting actor in this movie. The overall narrative is plausible, even though there are some shortcuts taken for the sake of progression. And despite being pretty much a structural copy of the first Rocky movie (underdog gets the unlikely, once in a lifetime chance to fight the world champion), is does not feel that way. Thanks to the different paths Adonis and young Rocky had to take, the story feels different enough, while being the same upon closer analysis. The emotional bonding among the characters and the pay off at the end, is also pretty well done. However, it is somewhat annoying that the first act feels, somehow, overly “urban”. But luckily this evens out quick enough, when the movie abandons the stereotypical characterizations. This was just a mild hiccup in an otherwise smooth screenplay.
The cast is solid, although I’m not sure if Michael B. Jordan was the right actor for this movie. Sure, he looks the part, but there is just something about his performance that feels off. I do applaud him for the emotional bits he had in this movie. Tessa Thompson, who is cast as Adonis his love interest, was a pleasant surprise for me. I never heard of her before and she did a great job performing the alternative girl next door type. We get more great casting in the form of Tony Bellew, who is an actual boxer, portraying the final confrontation for Adonis. What a perfect “villain” this guy was. That accent alone is man-crush worthy. I really hope to see him in more movies playing bad guys.
But the absolute highlight, is Stallone his performance. Besides Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis, Stallone is one of my childhood cinema badasses. And to see him so old and fragile in this movie was just unnerving. I won’t say too much about his predicament, to avoid mild spoilers, but it just felt so real. I can’t name any other movie in which Stallone gives this subtle of a performance. Very impressive.
This movie would have no business being in the Rocky franchise if it didn’t have some sweet training montages. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint in this department. I would even go as far as saying that the training montages alone, are worth the price of admission. They make great use of the excellent soundtrack that Creed brings to the table.
One little thing that I didn’t particularly like about Creed, was the over the top, super obvious brand placement. At times it looked like a Nike/Jordan Brand commercial. There must have been a more subtle way of doing this. But this is obviously just mild criticism.
In closing; I definitely recommend this movie. It has some nice fight scenes, great training montages and likable characters. But above all else, it’s an entertaining film. You will not be bored for even a second during its considerable runtime of 133 minutes.