I finally caught the new Rocky saga, titled Creed, and I must say, was pleasantly surprised. I am not a Rocky aficionado but have seen most of the installments and I really think this one stands up to be the best film since the original. I am sure that all of the Rocky experts have their own personal favorite but I am hearing from some of these folks that this one is right up there with the best.
As I watched, I kept waiting to get to the part of the movie where the film takes a turn into typical formula, syrupy and sentimental homage to the Rocky brand. In Creed, the writing by Aaron Covington and directing by Ryan Coogler kept the bar set high for a more gritty and engaging film. The film delivers the goods in action, with the boxing cinematography honed to perfection with cringing and powerful punching shots that look incredibly real.
The story begins with the young Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, as a troubled youth in a Los Angeles juvenile detention center. Adonis has a problem with anger which manifests into fighting his fellow inmates. While incarcerated, he gets a visit from his mother who wants him to live with her. The film jumps to years later, Adonis is boxing in a rowdy Tijuana bar/boxing ring where he unloads a blur of punches to knockout his opponent out within seconds. The film quickly shifts to Adonis as a financial analyst working a desk job. This career was certainly not appeasing him so he quits to give it his all to become a boxer. He gets rebuffed by the staff and humiliated at the gym where his father once trained. Adonis contemplates and makes the decision to move to Philly and look up Rocky to become his trainer.
In Philly, we find the widowed Rocky shuffling around in his restaurant which adorns his wife’s name. Stallone has gracefully and realistically aged Rocky into a senior citizen content in his old man ways. Adonis finds him and asks for his training services. Rocky wants nothing to do with this kid and especially nothing to with boxing. Adonis lands a cheap apartment and begins training on his own while stubbornly pursuing Rocky to train him. After finally relenting, Rocky comes to the gym for first time in years and begins showing the kid the ropes.
Not to completely abandon the Rocky and Hollywood formula, Adonis meets a girl that inspires. She is a talented singer but also has a personal crisis of impending hearing loss that she must contend with. The underlying issue with Adonis is excepting the fact that he is Apollo Creeds son and that people are going to judge him because of that. He is constantly hiding the secret so it’s not used as a stigma against him.
I am not going to spoil any more of the plot not because not of some big surprise ending but for the fact that the script is good enough stand on its own. The acting is very good which is not always easy to pull off in a Rocky film. Stallone might be hearing some Oscar talk as well as Michael B. Jordon as Creed who will be well on his way to a successful acting career. I also enjoyed the way the film went into the backstreet s of Philly and gives us a look into the world of boxing gyms. Lastly, the film felt very urban and current while still being heroic and a movie for most all ages.