The Rocky series has been one of the most successful and beloved film series of all time. Like the title hero of the film, the first Rocky film was an underdog that did the impossible and stole the hearts of audiences and critics alike and became one of the greatest American films ever made. The series stayed pretty consistent through the years with solid sequels like Rocky II and Rocky III, the cheesy but spectacular Rocky IV, the underwhelming Rocky V and the beautiful Rocky Balboa that almost matched the greatness of the original film. Now the series and the legacy are being passed on to a new fighter but one with deep ties to the Rocky legacy. Creed.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), after a tough childhood, has just learned that he is in fact the son of famous boxing legend Apollo Creed. Now looking to also break into boxing as a career, Adonis calls on his father’s former opponent and friend Rocky Balboa (Stallone) to mentor him. The retired champion is hesitant but when Adonis gets a chance for a high profile title fight, they work together to uphold his father’s legacy as well as carve out a place in the world for Adonis who has always felt lost.
I was excited to see Creed but I had to idea that newcomer Ryan Coogler, who had only ever directed one film, also with Jordan, the fantastic Fruitvale Station, could pull off what was essentially a Rocky film. But to my great surprise and happiness, Coogler crafted a film that was not only a Rocky film in spirit and heart but also a new tale of a new hope. Michael B. Jordan is PERFECT in his role as Adonis Creed. He plays every scene for all its worth as does Stallone in what is probably his last outing as The Italian Stallion. This is a film heavy with nostalgia, Coogler even uses old music cues from the original film, but it never feels like a rehash or overly sentimental. It is emotional due to the journey of Adonis and his quest to find his place in the world and the justification of his famous name. And for Rocky it is a connection to a friend he lost and the gaining of a new family after he has lost all of his. Creed is authentic, nostalgic, heart wrenching, sincere, beautifully written, lensed and acted. It is literally a perfect segue into what I hope will be a new series of films to carry on the Rocky legacy. Very highly recommended.