Creed Review: It’s a Knock-Out! 

Director: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

The Overview

After spending his childhood in and out of prison and foster homes, Adonis Johnson (Jordan) finally decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxer. Whilst simultaneously trying to live up to and escape the name “Creed”, Adonis seeks the help of his father’s rival, Rocky Balboa (Stallone), to train him. 

The Good

I really didn’t expect to like this movie. Boxing movies are not my bag, and after the distinctly average Southpaw last year, I wasn’t expecting great things. I haven’t been this pleasantly surprised by a film in a very long time! 

It manages to both pay tribute and homage to the original films, yet also very clearly passes the baton on to the next generation. There is one excellent scene at the start where Adonis is watching Apollo’s fight and boxing along with it beat for beat; it shows how important he views his father’s legacy but also that he will always live in the shadow of it no matter what he does. This immediately sets up the character and also provides that great nostalgia as we see Apollo fight once more. 

After a slew of progressively more terrible Expendables movies, I doubted that Stallone could ever gain back credibility, but he’s great in this film. It is so good to see him actually act and do it well, after becoming a bit of a laughing stock. He stands a good chance at picking up the supporting actor Academy Award, and it would be thoroughly deserved. 

Michael B Jordan redeems himself after the awful Fantastic Four and brings great honesty and physicality to the role. I won’t get into the Oscar discrimination discussion, but if anyone deserves to be up there with the best actor nominations, then it is Jordan.

Part of the reason this movie surprised me was the direction. There’s some outstanding direction from Coogler, particularly in Adonis’ first professional fight which appears to be filmed in one continuous take. This is so brilliantly done and really throws you into the action, feeling every punch and circling round the boxers as if you were in the ring yourself with them. 

Minor spoilers in next paragraph if you haven’t seen trailer. The film was far more emotional than I was expecting without necessarily being contrived. The reveal that Rocky has cancer and the subsequent montage of his treatment merged with Adonis’ training montage is actually rather beautiful. Each has their own fight, but they’re with each other every step of the way. One step. One punch. One round at a time. 

It’s not quite up there with some of the Oscar nominated soundtracks, but I loved the soundtrack. The mixture of a brassy triumphant score similar to that used in the Rocky films works seamlessly alongside a modern hip-hop soundtrack; again merging the old with the new. 

The Bad

If there’s anything bad about this film it’s that perhaps it is about 15 minutes too long, however it’s highly watchable and the payoff is incredibly satisfying so it’s not too much of an issue. 

I also feel Apollo’s wife was underused slightly and we didn’t really get to see much interaction between her and Adonis, but I also get that the focus on this film was establishing the relationship between Rocky and Adonis. Maybe that’ll be explored if they do a sequel. 

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. Fans of the franchise and newcomers will all find something to enjoy here. It’s beautifully shot, well acted and not as contrived as you might expect. I’ll be very interested to see where it goes from here, but if this is the only good Creed film we get, then that’s ok by me! When a film packs this much punch, it can easily stand alone. Definitely worth a watch! 

 Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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