Creed is technically the latest installment in the beloved Rocky franchise, even if Sylvester Stallone’s famed Balboa isn’t the main focal point of Ryan Coogler’s film. Taking centre-stage here is Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Johnson, the son of the late, great Apollo Creed. Having never known his father, Adonis is on a mission to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Apollo, the man who was the bestest of buds with Rocky Balboa and who died in the ring during Rocky IV. As such, the young fighter turns to the best friend of his deceased dad as he looks to pave his own career in the fight game.
What we’re given here is a film best described as an emotional rollercoaster. Is it cheesy? Hell yes, but that’s to be expected, and Creed manages to be utterly fantastic at the same time. When we first see Adonis, he’s in some sort of juvenile lock-up and communicating with his fists, and then we get introduced to the young adult version of the character. Desperate to forge his own legacy, yet clearly struggling with the burden of his father’s presence as a fighter but also dealing with having never known his old man, Adonis is a character of great depth and complexity, played out perfectly by Jordan as he ends up on a collision-course with the undefeated ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan (British boxer Tony Bellew).
Despite being very much a Rocky film in feel, this is definitely Michael B. Jordan’s picture. The actor who made his name in the indie hit Chronicle shows here that he has all the makings of a Hollywood leading man when given the right material to work with. Jordan brings huge emotional weight, anger, uncertainty, torment and regret to Adonis and makes him a character that you can firmly get behind for this film and in the future (there’s supposedly at least one further Creed-centric movie being planned). Still though, Stallone’s Rocky is with Adonis for the journey, and it’s fantastic to see the return of a fan favourite of film history. Here we see Rocky battling his own problems whilst doing whatever he can to give back to the son of his fallen friend, and Sly’s turn as Balboa makes you remember just why this is one of the most beloved characters in cinema history and pop culture.
Creed is a fresh start for a franchise that has had several knock downs over the years, and Ryan Coogler has managed to beautifully balance a new spin on an old favourite whilst paying enough homage and respect to what’s gone before (even elaborating on Rocky and Apollo’s famed ‘third fight’). The film powers through a whole range of emotion, never relenting for its 2-hour-plus runtime, and what could have been a played-out, by-the-numbers dud is an engaging, considerate and hugely enjoyable ride of a movie that will have audiences taking the hits and riding the highs of its principal cast as they embark on this latest chapter of the Rocky saga.
CREED / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: RYAN COOGLER / SCREENPLAY: RYAN COOGLER, AARON COVINGTON / STARRING: MICHAEL B. JORDAN, SYLVESTER STALLONE, TESSA THOMPSON, PHLYICIA RASHAD, GRAHAM MCTAVISH, TONY BELLEW / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 15TH
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10Actual Rating: