A few weeks ago I watched the Michael Mann directed Ali starring Will Smith as the legendary Muhammad Ali and came away from it slightly underwhelmed. The Louisville Lip’s story is an inspirational one, and yet the film never really hit me on an emotional level. We haven’t seen a great boxing movie in a while(Southpaw was terrible) and you couldn’t really help but feel as if the boxing genre was dying a slow, predictable death.
Then international reviews for Creed began to filter onto the internet and that really piqued my interest. Until this point I’d dismissed this film as “just another Rocky movie”.
I caught the film and realized how wrong I was.
Whilst being ultimate guilty pleasures, the Rocky franchise took a bit of a dive from the series’ second instalment. It became more about the scenario and less about the character, which was the exact opposite of the first film. Six films later, Rocky joined the infamous list of films that basically went from point A to Point B to Point C.
It gives me so much pleasure to say that Creed is not one of those films.
Creed is both a brilliant movie on its own and a worthy addition to the Rocky series. Ryan Coogler who directed the amazingFruitvale Station (check it out if you haven’t)is at the helm of this film and he does such a splendid job with it that one wonders what Hollywood was thinking letting Stallone direct FIVE of these movies. I mean he is Rocky after all, but you get my drift.
The film centers around Adonis Creed, Apollo’s illegitimate son who after a few stints in juvie is adopted by the late Apollo’s wife as one of her own. After quitting his job, Adonis sets out to make his own name in the boxing world , eager to step out of his father’s shadow and chart his own course. He then tracks down Rocky who’s now, living a quite retired life to train him and thus begins young Adonis’s journey to greatness.
The best thing about the film is that it’s not really a Rocky movie while being a Rocky movie. Coogler and Co set out to build a character from the ground up and that makes for very compelling viewing. There’s very little boxing in the movie but it’s the interaction between Rocky and Adonis that really keeps you entertained. The two compliment each other perfectly as they exchange witty repartees on the streets of Philly, with the streets truly coming alive in this film. Coogler’s done a fantastic job in giving the city of Philadelphia a voice of its own and it really works to the film’s advantage. Michael B. Jordan who seems to have exorcised his Fan4stic demons, puts in a career best performance as Adonis Creed, the film’s protagonist. He’s likeable, looks the part of a professional boxer and has the audience semi-jumping out of their seats in jubilation each time he lands a punch.
Stallone on the other hand, is wow.
Stallone’s recent track record has been pretty stale and standard until Creed came along. He nails it in this and takes you back to the Rocky you love and care for. His performance in the film has Oscar material written all over it and I’d be so glad if he walked away with it this year cause he totally deserves it. Yes, Stallone deserves an Oscar for this. World’s gone totally mad.
In the end, Creed is a terrific film with some great perfomances from the starcast, a brilliant cameo by the city of Philadelphia and some impressive fight sequences(the supposed one-take fight earlier on in the film is treat to be a part of) pushed into a brilliant narrative. All Creed needs is one step, one punch and one round as it slams deep into your emotional core, leaving you punch drunk with a wonderful feeling long after the credits roll. One of the year’s best, not to be missed.