Ryan Cooler's Creed is the worthwhile Rocky sequel/spinoff that we've all been waiting for, expertly blending together the boxing series' hard hitting obstacles and emotional core with a new character and story in way that feels both refreshing and magical. Michael B. Jordan is stellar and Stallone hasn't been better in years.
Fruitvale Station writer/director Ryan Coogler re-teams with star Michael B. Jordan for Creed, capturing that fighting spirt of the Rocky legacy with a level of class and respect, while also continuing the series in a new and exciting direction. Coogler has created something special that fans are going to love and newcomers are going to welcome with open arms.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is actually the unknown son of the late boxing legend Apollo Creed. He’s followed in his father’s footsteps, fighting in the underground circuit in hopes of earning his own name and creating his own legacy, but there’s a giant hole inside of his heart that he can’t seem to fill, until he eventually makes his way to Rocky Balboa’s (Sylvester Stallone) in hopes of getting trained to fight professionally.
Ryan Coogler‘s Creed is an exciting and fresh take on a franchise that we’ve all seen at least one entry of. Creed continues the Rocky fighting spirit with an unusually high amount of energy that translates into an electric film.
Creed focuses solely on Johnson’s built up rage, allowing him a channel to both unleash and understand his frustration and anger. It’s a recipe for cinematic success that Coogler executes brilliantly, paying his respects to the series while also giving us a new character to root for and the possibility of even more films in the future.
One of the best things about Creed is how accessible it is to all movie-going audiences. Not a fan of boxing or sports in general? That’s fine, because Creed tells a revealing story of a man without a father, living in a shadow that he just can’t seem to escape.
Even more interesting is when it approaches the idea of the man realizing that the shadow is instead a bright light for him to stand in.
Watching Coogler capture that transformation is the meat of the film. Coogler proved his worth as a filmmaker capable of telling all sorts of drama with his previous film Fruitvale Station, which introduced us to Michael B. Jordan in a way that is only topped by his performance in Creed.
What makes Creed a perfect transition for the filmmaker is his ability to continue his exceptional storytelling methods with an established property and another acting heavyweight.
Fruitvale Station was very much a solo Jordan effort, while Creed weighs in with two key performances. Sure, Jordan is the star and lead of the film, never once allowing us to forget his character’s struggle or constant fight within himself, but Sylvester Stallone manages to hold his own quite well, giving us his best performance since Rocky Balboa.
I’ve always considered Rocky Balboa to be one of my personal favorite Rocky films and I never thought it would get topped until watching Creed.
Creed‘s dynamic is completely different, allowing itself to be an underdog story and an exploration of one’s own worth. Watching Johnson choose to let in those around him and finally come to terms with the idea of having family that isn’t blood-related is just as satisfying as watching him go toe-to-toe with one of boxing’s greats.
Coogler manages to constantly cook the drama in a way that keeps on building and building until the main event. Nothing is considered fatty or pointless and instead the entire film is one lean production, teetering multiple performances with a centered story that comes to a roaring conclusion.
This year’s other boxing drama Southpaw failed to hold the attention of audiences and ended up being a messy sports drama with a few solid performances, while Creed fires on all cylinders from the start line and barely (if ever) skips a beat.
See Creed this weekend if you’re a Rocky fan. See Creed this weekend if you’re not. It’s the type of drama that elevates itself up and over the pre-determined notions you may have about boxing films and comes out swinging as a highly engaging film. Michael B. Jordan earns himself another best-of-the-year performance, while Stallone reminds us that he’s still capable of an emotional performance if given the right material.
Creed is a knockout success that hits all of the right notes. Coogler, Jordan and Stallone have created something special that you won’t want to miss.