Taking Rocky into the next generation, Creed successfully blends addictive bouts with a heart wrenching story to create one of the most exciting thrill rides of the Oscar season!
With fighting in his blood, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) travels to Philadelphia in search of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), all the while taking on a troubled childhood, the stress of finding his own path and the shadow of his infamous father.
Following the disappointing release of Southpaw last year, it looked as if the boxing genre was out for the count. With a cast coming off the back of multiple disappoints and a relatively unknown director, Creed also looked to be heading in the same direction. Thankfully however, Ryan Coogler has managed to take the much loved Rocky franchise and add arguably the best entry yet whilst reviving the careers of a few actors currently a little down on their luck!
Off the back of the incredibly well received Fruitvale Station, Coogler has managed to take his unrelentingly gritty style and tell a well rounded story that doesn’t get too big for its boots. The general plot is told in a very honest way, getting back to basics and letting the narrative do its job. His real skill however comes through during the fight scenes. Whether it’s a jab to the face or a rib breaking body-blow, the scenes are excellently paced, building the right amount of tension as we head through each round. Considering Coogler is fairly new to the chair, the veteran level of skill used here definitely makes him one to watch.
The screenplay itself is quite ambitious. Its two pronged approach is as much about Balboa as it is about Adonis. Luckily, the screenplay is skilfully layered to give both stories equal screen time, grounding the audience by mixing feel-good moments with emotional tid-bits. This balance is key to the storyline’s success as it does a great job at giving emphasis to key moments. Be it honest, human interaction or waiting for the final blow, each scene is aptly built enough to make its point.
With so much done right, it’s great to see a well rounded, confident cast. Hanging on to a fairly mixed bag of previous performances, Michael B. Jordan is passable as the lead but thankfully brings it when he needs to. The real moments however come from the supporting cast, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson. Stallone is great, easily stepping back into the shoes he has nurtured for so long while Thompson provides a captivating love interest.
Overall, Creed delivers a heavyweight performance that easily KO’s most boxing movies made in the last 5 years. Driven by nostalgia but easily able to stand out on its own, Creed is a perfect example of sports ascension done right. Paired with some knockout performances from the supporting cast, this is definitely one of the strongest films to start off 2016. 4 out of 5 stars.