I live just a short drive from Philadelphia. Or Philth-adelphia as you may know it. The City of Brotherly Love actually only loves a few things: cheesesteaks, that jawn over there, and Rocky Balboa. There’s no real life person, living or dead that stacks up to the Italian Stallion to people from this city, so a new Rocky movie is an event. This is their Star Wars. For me, the best film is the original by far, but each film has their merit, except maybe the now non-canon Rocky V. With Creed, you have quite possibly the second-best movie in the series.
Brought up in the system, and later raised by the widow of his superstar dad, Apollo, Adonis Creed grows up in the shadow of the former heavyweight champ that shares the same last name as him. Despite having a great job and a bright future in Los Angeles, Donny packs up and heads to Philadelphia in search of Rocky Balboa, his dad’s old rival and closest friend. While Rocky at first denies the young Creed’s pleas for training, Donny’s determination and pluck wins the old champ over, and the two form an unlikely bond as Creed tries to make a name for himself in the same sport that his dad built his empire.
Creed is basically exactly what a movie-going experience should be: it’s fun, gets you on the edge of your seat, and has you walking out feeling good. It’s a true crowd-pleaser and it hits all the notes it should. Creed is bolstered by a strong performance by Michael B. Jordan as the titular Adonis Creed. He’s got enough charisma to be Carl Weathers’ kid and enough charm to carry a blockbuster. It’s not exactly an Oscar performance, but Creed shouldn’t be thought of as an Oscar-bait sort of movie, despite the nom for the veteran Stallone. It’s a strong performance that you can build a new series of films around.
Stallone slips back into the role that made him a star perfectly; it’s as if he never left. At this point in his career, though, this is where Rocky should be and not where he was in Rocky Balboa. He needs to be in the Mick role at this point, and even though Stallone is trying to hold onto his heyday with The Expendables franchise, it’s great to see him take a backseat to a younger generation.
With Ryan Coogler at the helm (directing his own script), Creed looks good, hits all the right notes, and has some real achievements in filmmaking. Creed’s first official fight takes place in a single shot, and while it’s not quite something out of The Revenant, there’s a tension that comes with the long take and the fluid camera makes it feel like you’re right in the action in the ring. Right up through the final fight, which feels just like Creed-Balboa I, Coogler’s direction makes this film a great addition to the sports movie world.