‘Creed’ Review

Creed
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Tony Bellew
★★★★☆

Remember how in “Rocky V” Rocky takes over the Mickey role for Tommy Gun and the results, were, well “Rocky V.” If “Rocky V” was good, then you get “Creed.” “Creed” is the best Rocky movie since the original “Rocky” in 1976. For everything that the movie does well, there is one aspect where the film does come up short. “Creed” talks a lot about legacy and standing on your own outside of the legacy, at least on the meta level this works because the film does stand on its own outside of the Rocky series. The film does not explore this theme enough through the Adonis Creed character. Through Adonis, it feels like the film is exploring an embracing of a legacy rather than the creation of an independent legacy. Adonis follows in his father’s footsteps by going into the ring, eventually adopts his father’s surname, and wears the shorts Apollo wore in the first fight with Rocky. If anything the movie should have had Rocky seek out Adonis to try and get him to embrace his legacy, with Adonis resisting. Instead of having Adonis seeking out Rocky, but I guess they needed to bring the narrative back to Philadelphia somehow.

Thematic shortcomings aside, the rest of “Creed” was a well-crafted movie that is expertly directed by Ryan Coogler. “Creed” is only Coogler’s second feature film, with his first being 2013’s “Fruitvale Sation.” Coogler directs a film that is gritty and real. The boxing scenes in “Creed” are taut and exciting. The final fight between Creed and Conlan elicited both gasps and cheers from the audience. Coogler put you right there in the ring with the fighters, and there are moments in these fights (the last one especially) that evoke “Raging Bull.” Coogler also beautifully captures the city of Philadelphia. From the Eagles graffiti to the urban grit of the Frankford section, and even the use of the word jawn. Philadelphia is a character in the film in a way that it had not been since “Rocky.”

Where “Creed” really excels is in the performances of Michael B. Jordan, who had starred in Coogler’s previous film “Fruitvale Station,” and Sylvester Stallone. Thanks to this film Jordan escapes that “Fantastic Four” episode unscathed because his phenomenal performance in “Creed” will bury his involvement in “Fantastic Four.” As for Stallone, I am pretty sure this next statement will bring about the apocalypse, so I apologize in advance for that. Prepare to wrap your mind around the fact that when it comes to Oscar time you may see the words Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone. At this point, we all know that Stallone was never going to be an Oscar-level actor, but Coogler directs him to that caliber of performance.

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