Creed is by far, one of my favourite films this year.
If that sounds like hyperbole, I implore you to watch the film first and tell me that I’m wrong in thinking that.
Growing up, I’ve always been a fan of Sylvester Stallone and his two flagship franchises — Rocky and Rambo. As a kid, I was of course more inclined to the heroics and bloody mayhem that the Rambo movies have provided but as time went on, I began to appreciate the Rocky franchise with great respect as well (even the absymal Rocky V has it’s moments) So when Stallone came back with 2006’s Rocky Balboa, I personally felt it to be a great swansong to his saga, but then, 9 years later, Creed comes along and subsequently blows me away.
As the name suggests, Creed revolves around Adonis Creed (Played brilliantly here by Chronicle’s Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Rocky’s arch-nemesis turned best friend. Adonis, inspired by his late father, and without ever having met him, wants to be a boxer. He does not want this out of some misguided sense of entitlement but rather, out of passion and a desire to live up to the legacy of his father, who, as the earlier films had established, was always the superior fighter to Rocky. Adonis tries to remain as anonymous as he can, wanting to be successful on his own merits, but of course, he requires a trainer; and who better to train him than Rocky Balboa himself? (Played by a superb Sylvester Stallone, bringing out his inner acting chops) Stallone and Jordan establish real chemistry in this film in the form of a quasi Father-son relationship that’s beautiful and truly heart-warming to witness.
Initially, when this film was announced, I was very sceptical as it felt like milking a franchise that, unlike many other franchises, ended beautifully and in a very poignant manner with the aforementioned Rocky Balboa, but when the director was announced to be Ryan Coogler (Director of the fantastic Fruitvale Station), my interest was piqued; and once I viewed the first trailer, I was flat-out hyped.
and boy, did it deliver.
Creed is a beautifully directed, well-acted, amazingly edited and immaculately plotted work of art that stands at the very apex of this franchise, proving that it’s still got legs. Michael B. Jordan, working here with Coogler for the second time after Fruitvale Station, shows what he’s truly capable of and plays Adonis with a mixture of insecurity, passion and compassion; actively making the audience root for him along every step of the way. To me though, the actor who actually shined the brightest in the film is without a doubt, Stallone himself. He shows his incredible, and latent acting range here as Balboa; playing him as the kind-hearted and loveable, yet driven man that we’ve come to know him as. I, honestly was pleasantly surprised to see Stallone’s performance for it is truly Oscar-calibre material. Not something you’d think of an actor who’s last two films were The Expendables sequels (Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 2nd Expendables but it’s definitely not a franchise that doesn’t allows for character moments).
The supporting cast does their job well too, with Tessa thompson as Bianca, Adonis’ love interest. Their relationship feels real and doesn’t drag down the pace of the film unlike many other such films where the romance comes across as the weakest. In a lot of ways, Tessa and Adonis’ relationship parallels that of Rocky and Adrian’s in the early films and for a Rocky fan, it’s a beautiful thing to witness.
The true star of this film though, is Ryan Coogler himself. See, the Rocky franchise was never only about Boxing; It had a beating heart beneath it’s seemingly generic template and it’s this heart that drives the films forward. Coogler understands this and directs the movie accordingly. There were times in the movie where I found myself in tears, other times when I was grinning sheepishly and quite a number of times when I contracted an extreme case of goosebumps. The latter was especially true when I heard the opening notes of the classic Rocky theme with it’s placement in the film and also, when I viewed this film’s version of the famous Rocky running down Philadelphia sequence and with Coogler in talks for Marvel’s Black Panther feature film, I can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for us.
The film is amazingly shot as well. Coogler, working with cinematographer Maryse Alberti has crafted some shots that, while experimental in nature, are breathtaking and work amazingly well within this film. This is especially true of the sequence where Adonis has his first fight, which is shot in a single take. Rarely have I ever seen a shot and wondered as to how they accomplished it and the aforementioned single take is one of such shots.
Not once did this film feel like it was riding the coattails of the earlier films and I personally feel that the film does an excellent job in setting a personality for itself.
I couldn’t exactly point out any discernible flaws in this film. Perhaps, an argument can be made that the plot could be a wee bit predictable but quite honestly, when viewing the film, I never once thought about it. That was how immersed I was and anything else would be nitpicking
I sincerely hope that, like Rocky, Creed gets his own franchise because I’m completely onboard. This film inspired and moved me. In short, It completely knocked me out (Pun fully intended).
Rating – 9.5/10 (A near Masterpiece)
Money Moment – The Final Fight.