Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Written by: Aaron Covington, Ryan Coogler
Starring: Andre Ward, Anthony Bellew, Graham McTavish, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Michael B. Jordan, Phylicia Rashad, Ritchie Coster, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
What Is It All About?
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born. However, boxing is in his blood, so he seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and asks the retired champ to be his trainer. Rocky sees much of Apollo in Adonis, and agrees to mentor him, even as he battles an opponent deadlier than any in the ring. With Rocky’s help, Adonis soon gets a title shot, but whether he has the true heart of a fighter remains to be seen.
The Hughes Verdict!
If you ever wanted to know the answer to the Rocky Franchise’s biggest Mystery? Who won the “unofficial” third bout between the Italian Stallone and The Master Of Disaster, then Creed finally gives the answer. In fact Creed answers a lot of questions regarding this much loved series of films! Can the brand live on now that its star is a the good age of 69? How would fans feel if Rocky is no longer the man in the ring? Is it possible that the story itself which has been told many times over, be worth telling again?
Surprisingly for fans and most notably the critics, Creed gives a resounding thumbs up and leaves the door ajar for the new kid in the ring to fight plenty more rounds after the final bell sounds at the end of the twelfth at the climax of this film and given the warm reception and box office takings, do not be too surprised if one day Adonis ends up avenging his father’s death by fighting the son of Ivan Drago in Creed IV.
His father of course was Apollo Creed last seen in the fan favourite Rocky IV and once foe and then friend of our Rocky. Adonis is his illegitimate son, spending his early years in Foster homes before being rescued by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad), who takes him home and raises him as one of the family. As a young man, the sound of “boxing” calls to him and as the local trainers to refuse to train him, he travels to Philadelphia to meet up with the icon himself Rocky, who now a few years older and still running the restaurant Adrian’s , and asks the former Heavyweight Champion Of The World to train him!
Basically its what Rocky V should have been, without the stupid unrealistic ending (even though I do love the fifth film for being so dumb!).
With a no Tommy Gunn clone in sight, Creed takes a more realistic approach to proceedings with a heart that harks back to the 1976 original and to what was the planned last film Rocky Balboa. While the 2006 offering was a fitting swansong for Sylvester Stallone’s much cherished creation, Creed is a new beginning that benefits from a new injection of talent behind the camera and in the lead role. Being the first of the franchise not written by Stallone himself, Ryan Coogler who made his name with 2013’s brilliant Fruitvale Stations puts pen to paper and his own vision behind the camera to deliver a film that is not too dissimilar in tone to Star Wars.
I don’t mean there are space battles and talking droids, but what we have is a film that serves up a kind of remake of the original, while offering its own roots for further instalments and benefiting from having nostalgia and a returning face for fans to get on-board.
Before I get to the lead role, Creed itself would not work if they did not manage to get Stallone back because I have to be honest and say Sly who clearly loves the character of Rocky is simply breathtaking in the role. He carries the much needed heart and sentiment as with Paulie now joining Adrian as deceased, Rocky is now all on his own and faced up to the fact that his the golden days are long gone. When a sub plot thrusts the character into the limelight half way through, you feel for Rocky once more and while Creed is the title card, this could easily have been called Rocky VII, that is how much of an influence and presence he puts through out.
With Stallone still oozing the required class, its up to newcomer Michael B. Jordan not to disappear because for the franchise to survive he needs to convince and thankfully, while channelling Carl Weathers at times, he does not disappoint. Jordan offers the film a new hero to cheer for and while at times the script comes across as a bit chunky at times, you be cheering on at the final fight for Adonis to live up to the legacy of Creed!
To get to that point of the final fight, we the viewer have to get through all the usual traits this franchise offers and its here the fans will either be with the franchise or not. We get a new Adrian in the shape of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) but this time a more confident woman than the one who worked in a pet shop. Bianca is a singer suffering from a degenerative hearing loss, which adds another layer to a character in a plot vice that may grow in any further sequels.
Stallone becomes the new Mickey and while there is no Clubber Lang or an Ivan Drago, real life Liverpudlian boxer Tony Bellew is the foe named “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, who gets a minor back story but in reality is only there to give the new Creed a fight at the end of the film.
The fight itself tries to stay as realistic as possible with Coogler editing at a frenzy and trying to keep it as grounded as possible, and while many will feel the familiarity that comes with the climax, once the riffs of Bill Conti’s most infamous theme starts to play, you can’t help but will Adonis on. The clever use of that music tone is reminiscent of what they done with the Bond theme in Casino Royale.
At the end as the credits roll, helped by a touching final scene, your love for Creed depends on how much you loved the Rocky franchise. This does not harm the legacy built up by Stallone himself and one scene in particular sums up what everyone involved was trying to achieve. When Adonis himself gets his very own “running” sequence (with bikes replacing children), Coogler cleverly adds Rocky into the scene, looking on and waving his approval. Its like the once hero of the streets is passing the torch to the new kid on the block and its one of my favourite movie moments of 2015.
Creed may not pull any new punches to a well known formula, but manages to give the fans what they want and then hope for a promising future, like I said, a bit like that Space Opera which is currently breaking box office records.
Added note: Stallone really deserves awards for such a powerful performance!