I will freely admit I was a late bloomer when it came to Rocky. One fateful day though, AMC ran a marathon of all five films. I sat on my couch for ten hours straight and have been a fan ever since. I was thrilled a few years later when Rocky Balboa came out. I even wrote an article about how Rocky is the greatest movie character of all time. So when the announcement came out about Creed, I was excited. Not only that, friends of mine that don’t give a shit about movies were excited. Rocky’s like Rudy. Everybody likes it. Add in Michael B. Jordan. He’s been on the cusp of becoming a big time movie actor until Fantastic Four bombed so horribly ISIS took credit for it. Would this get him back on track?
In case you’ve been living under a rock (Get it?!?!?!) for the last forty years, Apollo Creed was the antagonist in the first two Rocky films. He would later go on to train Rocky after his coach’s death and become good friends with him. Jordan plays Adonis Creed, his son from an affair who goes by Donnie Johnson (His mother’s name). After bouncing from foster home to foster home, he’s finally taken in by Creed’s widow Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). She raises him as her own and provides him with a good life, a good education, and a good job.
It’s not enough though. Donnie has self-taught himself to box and has been taking fights in Mexico. After winning several fights, he attempts to join his father’s old gym (Now run by Apollo’s coach’s son) where he is rebuffed and black balled. Letting his temper get the best of him, he steps in the ring with the number two ranked fighter in the world and gets badly knocked out. After quitting his job so he can box, his step mother says he’s cut off. With no other options, Donnie travels to Philadelphia to seek the help of Rocky.
Upon arrival, he enlists the aid of a reluctant Italian Stallion and begins seeing a local singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson-Selma, Dear White People). After accepting a fight with another member of Mick’s old gym, Donnie and Rocky train across town in another gym. After winning the bout, the secret that Donnie is Apollo’s son comes out. Rocky also discovers he’s contracted Hodgkins Lymphoma and doesn’t wish to seek treatment for it after seeing what it did to his wife. With most of his friends and family dead and his son being distant, Rocky has decided to let the cancer run its’ course.
Meanwhile, after knocking Adonis out, Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Olympic gold medalist and undefeated fighter Andre Ward) goes on to his title shot against “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Played by another former world champion Tony Bellew. Oddly enough, the last fight Bellew lost was to a guy named Adonis). Pretty Ricky is a bit of a bad boy and this could be his last fight before going to jail on a weapon’s charge. After striking Wheeler and breaking his jaw during an altercation at the weigh-in, Conlan needs someone new to fight. His manager (Rambo alum Graham McTavish) urges him that a fight against Apollo Creed’s son could be one last final payday before he gets locked up. The only way he gets the fight is if he uses the Creed name though.
Will Adonis accept his destiny? Will he be able to win the fight? Will he save Rocky? You’ll have to watch and find out. So on the whole, I thought this film was fantastic. I had four or five little problems that I’ll bring up for the sake of being complete and then get back to gushing. My first problem is why Little Duke (Wood Harris) refuses to train him and more so, why he goes out of his way to ensure no one else will? Doesn’t make any sense. I also didn’t like the fact that they left Mick’s gym to train at the other one but that’s purely me being sentimental. I also thought it was kind of odd that he just so quickly accepts Rocky. He’s this loner his whole life but immediately refers to Rocky as his uncle having never met him before. Then there’s the fact that Apollo’s other children never make an appearance or are mentioned at all. I hate to say this of a movie over two hours but I could have used more back story. Was it a one night stand that conceived Adonis? How did Mary Anne feel? Why are people riding dirt bikes and four wheelers through the hood? Is that a thing?
Again though, mostly inconsequential. The cinematography is great in this film. They do some Birdman tricks during the first actual bout to make it seem as if it all takes place in one take, which is very cool. The tracking shots are great. The script is good though not great but the performances make it come off a lot better than it maybe should have. I was glad Stallone didn’t direct this one as personally I feel like he gives better performances when he’s not behind the camera.
As far as Michael B. Jordan goes, he is electric. He has this amazing chip on his shoulder the first time you see him and then once he quits his job it’s almost like it’s not there anymore now that he’s on the path he’s chosen for himself. Then he keeps all that anger almost invisible but bubbling just beneath the surface and lets it out a little at a time when he needs to. The scenes between him and Stallone are electric. I don’t think this movie got him back on track; I think it took him to the next level. A-
T-Bagz likes Creed… the band and the movie