When Creed was released in November 2015, there was plenty of expectation surrounding a movie made as a spin-off and sequel to the Rocky film series. Featuring Sylvester Stallone in the role of Rocky Balboa and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, whether or not this could really live-up to all the hype was just one of many unanswered questions. After watching the full 133 minutes, it certainly did not disappoint.
Moving, inspiring and entertaining, Ryan Coogler should be proud of the work he has done as director and co-writer. When “Donnie” quits his job at a security firm in order to follow in his father’s footsteps as a professional boxer, he travels to Philadelphia hoping to find the legendary Rocky Balboa. After Rocky first refuses to train Donnie, he eventually agrees, and the relationship that then develops between the two is a heart-warming one. The friendship between young boxer and former champion is one that dominates throughout, and connecting on this emotional level with its viewers is a key factor in making this such a wonderfully received film.
With every aspect of the film going well so far, it was inevitable and to be honest somewhat predictable that something would go wrong sooner or later. Trying his best to keep his name out of the spotlight, word soon gets out that Donnie is the illegitimate son of former boxing champion Apollo Creed after he defeats a local fighter. The youngster can no longer forge his own legacy, and will now almost certainly be in his father’s shadow for the rest of his career.
After Donnie’s name gets broadcast all over international television, world light heavyweight champion Ricky Conlan offers to make the upcoming boxing star his final challenger. After eventually agreeing, this is a fight that Donnie surely cannot win. In a slightly unexpected turn of events, this fight sets the stage for an incredible finish to a fascinating film.
If you were being ultra-critical, certain moments in this movie are too easily predicted. However, unlike most sports films, the determined and focussed acting of Michael B. Jordan, coupled with the austerity and somewhat occluded personality displayed through Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky Balboa, makes watching this masterpiece a necessity. Reluctant and at times unenthusiastic, Rocky evidently cares about Adonis but consciously tries to hide his emotions.
In another twist to the plot, one which was totally unexpected on this occasion, Rocky learns he has cancer. With training going well ahead of the fight against Conlan, Donnie is understandably angry and upset when Rocky refuses to undergo chemotherapy. With Rocky’s illness still firmly on his mind, the young boxer ends up in a fight with a rapper before watching his girlfriend Bianca perform, and subsequently gets thrown in jail.
As the dust settles, this remarkable movie captures the hearts of its viewers once more. Rocky continues to train Donnie in his hospital room as the fight against Conlan moves closer. In Conlan’s hometown of Liverpool, the bout takes place at a fully-packed Goodison Park. Touchingly, Donnie receives a present from his adoptive mother Mary Anne before entering the ring – a pair of new American flag trunks similar to the ones Apollo and later Rocky wore.
You would expect, like many films that have followed a similar pattern to this one, for Adonis to reign victorious. It is Conlan, however, who wins the fight after being taken the distance by an incredible young talent. Although he lost, Adonis has won over the crowd after such a valiant effort, and as American sportscaster Jim Lampley famously concludes:
“Conlan won the fight, but Creed won the night.”
A movie that promised to deliver certainly did not fail to do just that. An inspiring, adrenaline-charged and at times emotional roller-coaster, Creed has succeeded in delivering all that was expected of it and more.
Target publication: Film.com/movies
Target audience: Boxing fans, particularly men aged 18-30, who enjoy watching and playing the sport. Will also appeal to fans of Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky film series.