Review: Creed

The Italian Stallion is back – in a film that isn’t about him. In Creed, Rocky Balboa is a semi-retiree content to work alone in his restaurant, until a shadow of his past forces him to step back into the ring. Michael B. Jordan is Adonis Creed, son of the iconic Apollo, out to prove himself a champion to the world – something he’ll need a reluctant Balboa’s help with.

Jordan delivers an impressive performance, physically and dramatically, that should cement a big future for him in Hollywood. The storytelling here is generally assured and confident, ducking and weaving through all the formulaic beats you’d expect. Director Ryan Coogler also demonstrates a great flair for action sequences, put to best use in an important fight about halfway through the film. Shot in one take with the help of some digital stitching, it showcases brilliant boxing choreography and brilliant camerawork put together with joyous results.

Where the film doesn’t deliver is with its love story and the father/son themes it relies on heavily for dramatic oomph. Adonis’ relationship with Rocky is certainly interesting and well told, but the newcomer’s stakes aren’t high enough to make it very meaningful. Romantic interest Bianca (Tessa Thompson) seems really crow-barred into the story too, proving occasionally cringe-inducing.

As for Stallone, his performance is impressively subtle and nuanced. It also appears he has passed the torch creatively with Creed, much to its benefit, allowing the new filmmakers to give the spin-off a healthy dose of originality. There’s not a lot of nostalgic fan-service, and when the little that there is arrives it feels well-earned. The film manages to pull off looking back with the right amount of reverence while standing alone as a strong dramatic piece, albeit with a few missteps.

‘Creed’ Movie Times

Also Worth Seeing: Rocky, Fruitvale Station, Warrior