MOVIE REVIEW: Creed (2016)

Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington, Sylvester Stallone,
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

The latest in the Rocky series of films brings in the son of Apollo Creed.

For my sins I love a Rocky movie, you’ll have to forgive me, but there is just something about those films that hits me square on the jaw.  I can remember ditching a friend on Rocky 5 opening night to see the film, rather than being a normal 16-year-old and going with him to meet a date, anyway enough of this.  Rocky 5 wasn’t the greatest adventure of the Underdog.  It wasn’t too terrible, but it was enough to end the series for a while, and for me I think this is where the jokes started.  It was then okay for animated sit coms and other shows to take the series on as a joke.

It’s a new century now, and we’ve had the underrated Rocky Balboa, but it wasn’t the one two knockout punch that it should have been.  Creed on the other glove, see what I did there, is by far one of the pound for pound best boxing movies ever made.  Not just in the series of Rocky movies, but in the genre as a whole.

So here is the story of Creed.  Young Offender Adonis Johnson has grown up hard, in the correctional facility, he doesn’t know that the father that he never knew was Apollo Creed.  All young Adonis knows is that he loves to fight.  When Apollo’s widow finds Adonis she offers him a home and a future. Skipping forward a number of years and Adonis is trying to make it as a boxer, but wants to do it without the shadow of his father following him around.  When he realises that he needs an edge to make it as a professional Adonis travels to Philadelphia to find The Italian Stallion to train him up.  At first Rocky is not interested in training young Creed for the ring but soon finds that training the son of his most famous opponent is the way to reconcile his own life.  As Adonis learns how to win in the ring, Rocky must undertake his next battle, and the two fighters travel together in their own battles.

This film just made me happy from start to finish.  The perfect casting of Michael B. Jordan as Adonis showed that this young actor has what it takes to be a true light in the cinema.  Where previous Rocky movies were entertaining but full of gimmicks Ryan Cooglar the Director and one of the writers hits every scene with a realistic approach that makes this film a heavyweight champion.  If you’ve seen a Rocky movie before, and if you haven’t where the hell have you been?, you’ll be in for the same style of cinematic ride.  A lot of the training and Philadelphia scenes bring back that amazing feel of the first two films.  The soundtrack sparkles with music that makes sense to the film, I know that may seem silly to point out, but when you see a film with the wrong music for the scenes it throws you off.  Cooglar, who will direct The Black Panther for Marvel, gives us that amazing balance of boxing movie, drama, and a very sensitive romance.  Providing a romantic side to the film gives it an incredible substance that most of the other Rocky movies were sadly missing.  The supporting cast here are just magically infused into the universe and make it more of a pleasure to watch.

I would give this film a 6 out of five if possible, for the one reason that this is Stallone’s most well-rounded and deep performance since Cop Land.  The ageing fighter of Rocky is torn between wanting to help out the child of his friend and knowing the damage that happens to the Boxer.  When Rocky finds out that he has a serious illness every ounce of Stallone’s acting talent is thrown into the scene, and I have to say it had me in tears.

Of course this is a Rocky movie and there is a big fight at the end, and you travel along with the young fighter trying to shake off the mantle of his father, and then the retired fighter who must fight a more serious battle.  You gladly travel along with the fighters and their lives, there are many references to the previous movies without holding you back there, this could easily be a stand alone film, people who have never seen any of the previous movies don’t have to know a lot to get on board this amazing boxing drama.

Creed opens in Irish Cinemas, that’s where I live folks, on January 15th.

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