There is something about boxing films that makes you root for these crazy on-screen pugilists, who batter each other until one of them throws in the towel. Few boxing films manage to evoke that sense of attachment, and Creed, is one of them. Sticking to the tried and tested formula behind the Rocky series, Creed is an offshoot of one of Hollywood’s biggest and most successful franchises. And boy, does it do it well!
The film begins in 1998, in a juvenile center, where a young Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is battering away at one of his fellow detainees. Bouncing from foster homes to juvenile detention, Johnson has no one to call his own. Never having met his father and his mother having passed away, Adonis is tracked down by Mary Ann Creed (Phylicia Rashad), Apollo Creed’s widow. It so turns out that the child who was pounding away at another boy in juvie, is actually the son of one of the most legendary boxers to grace the ring – Apollo Creed. Mary Ann gives Adonis a home and raises him as her own. The film then jumps to 2015, and Adonis still wants to be a fighter.
However, Adonis wants to build an identity of his own and wants to steer clear of his father’s legacy. He turns to Apollo’s foe turned best friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).
The highlight of Creed is Balboa and Adonis’ equation, which translates marvelously on screen. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Creed does everything right. It gives subtle nods to the old films; it trades on Adonis’ lineage, and focuses on what it should be focusing on – the boxing. Creed uses everything we remember from the Rocky films – extended training montages, old tunes from the previous films (they had to drop Eye of the Tiger in somewhere) and an underdog who has to fight to prove his mettle. And it works sublimely well.
Stallone is back as Rocky, who has his own battles outside the ring. He delivers punchy dialogues, which hit you in the feels when you least expect. He remains the same old Rocko we all remember. The real star of Creed however, is Michael B. Jordan, who is exquisite as Adonis Creed, a man struggling to match up to his father’s legacy. Expressive, memorable and engaging, he delivers a sound performance that more than makes up for his last film (Fantastic Four).
Verdict : Brilliant performances, combined with a great storyline and fitting tributes to the old Rocky films make Creed a memorable watch. Go catch it for Stallone, for Rocky. ‘Nuff said!
Review by Karan Raikar