Synopsis: Adonis Creed, the youngest son of Apollo Creed, follows in his late father’s footsteps to become a boxer. Adonis enlists the help of a retired Rocky Balboa who was his father’s friend and greatest rival. 40 years after the first Rocky film, Creed breathes new life into the franchise accompanied by knockout performances by Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan.
There’s no question that Michael B. Jordan is a great actor, but this young man has the ability to be a superstar. Starring in Creed was a fantastic way to rebound from the flop that was Fox’s Fantastic Four.
Jordan gives a balanced performance as a troubled young man who’s inspired by his father to be a fighter, but doesn’t want to be cast in his shadow. We’re introduced to Adonis as a young boy in a juvenile facility who gets in trouble for badly beating another child. Instead of being transferred to yet another foster home, he gets taken in by Mary-Ann (Phylicia Rashad), Apollo Creed’s affluent widow.
We then fast forward to an older, clean-cut and successful Adonis who quits his job to become a full-time fighter, much to the dismay of Mary-Ann. Adonis moves to Philadelphia to enlist the help of his father’s greatest rival, a retired and older Rocky Balboa, who refuses several times before he gives in to Creed’s persistent son.
The movie does an excellent job of building a father-son like relationship between Adonis and Rocky. Throughout the course of the film, it seems like Rocky is paying a debt to Apollo by helping his son become a great boxer. But it gets deeper than that. Rocky and Adonis form a bond that’s reminiscent of the one he had with the senior Creed, but deeper in the sense that Rocky gets to lead Adonis on the path to become a great boxer himself.
The two characters share funny family moments such as the young Creed telling an old Balboa about the cloud and cracking typical old man jokes. A retired Balboa having fun watching the rookie Adonis go through the same grueling training he had to endure in his formative days as a boxer. Though both characters are faced with their own battles, they find solace and strength in one another to work to defeat them.
Sly Stallone may not be the best actor in the world, but damn does he put forth his best acting skills in this film. Six movies and 40 years later, he still completely embodies the Balboa character and you can tell that Stallone still really enjoys playing this role. He also does an exceptional job of emoting during his more emotional scenes with Jordan.
The fight scenes were also very well done. It was cool watching Adonis grow from a regular street boxer to a professional one. He certainly gets knocked down a few times, and badly, but it’s what you would expect from a boxing movie. Also, you can tell Jordan gave everything he had into preparing for the role. He’s certainly in amazing shape.
It’s hard to call Creed’s main villain, heavyweight champion Tommy Holliday (Graham McTavish), an actual villain because he hardly appears in the movie until the climax of the film. His purpose is to take advantage of Adonis’ inexperience and defeat him in a championship match in order to make money off defeating Apollo Creed’s son. It’s clear he was just there so Adonis could learn the lesson that your greatest opponent is yourself, a trope that’s constantly used throughout the film, but isn’t overused.
Tessa Thompson appears as Bianca, a singer with progressive hearing loss and Adonis’ love interest. She and Jordan had good enough chemistry to make their relationship believable.
Even if you’ve never seen the other Rocky films, Creed emphasizes the bond between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed well enough that new audiences understand Apollo was and still is an apparent character in the movie. Also, I’d like to see more Creed movies. This has the potential to be a very good series if it continues to embody the same gritty and underdog spirit that’s made the original Rocky movies so special.
Quick tidbit: Wire fans will be happy to see a brief Avon and Wallace reunion in the movie.
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