Another Chapter In The Rocky Saga: Creed
Adonis Johnson could easily have a successful future. He has a career as a financial planner in Los Angeles. In his spare time, though, he goes to Mexico and boxes in the ring, and has amassed an undefeated record. He knows a little about his heritage, but that heritage calls to him more strongly than ever in Creed. Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis, who is the son of Apollo Creed and the product of an extramarital affair. After his birth mother died and he was shuffled between foster homes and juvenile detention because of this penchant for fighting, Apollo's widow, Mary (Phylicia Rashad), gave Adonis a home where he flourished. After he left his work, Adonis felt spurned by a local gym who declined to train him, so he moved to Philadelphia to seek the assistance of his father's most famous opponent, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), who still runs a restaurant in the city. Adonis makes his pitch, and after some persuading, gets Rocky to agree to train him.
Rocky takes Adonis to a gym where Adonis can get the staff's full attention, since the gym where Rocky trained has a light heavyweight contender named Leo Sporino (Gabriel Roasdo) there. Rocky soon arranges a match between the two fighters, where any questions about Adonis's pedigree get erased with a knockout by Johnson. Meanwhile in England, the reigning world champion in the weight class, "Pretty" Ricky Conlon (Tony Bellew), an undefeated fighter with a bad boy reputation, loses a match against Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler (Andre Ward) by injuring his opponent during a pre-match confrontation. Acting quickly, Ricky's manager, Tommy Holiday (Graham McTavish) phones Rocky for the possibility of a Conlon-Johnson match. When Rocky and Adonis agree, Holiday makes one non-negotiable demand. Outside the ring, Adonis gets involved with his apartment neighbor, a singer who bills herself as Bianca (Tessa Thompson). He also dedicates more attention to Rocky when Rocky tries to downplay a serious illness.
On this seventh film with the Balboa character, Rocky has finally stepped away from the ring as a competitor. Creed does a very good job of bringing a human factor back to the Rocky franchise. The third through sixth Rocky entries simply went through the motions of bringing one brash contender after another to face Rocky, with modest success. In Creed, Rocky has become content with growing older, while helping Adonis prove himself in a way that would make everybody proud. The script was co-written by director Ryan Coogler, whose debut feature film was the solid Fruitvale Station, which also starred Jordan. Followers of the Rocky series will see that the stories of the rise of Rocky and the rise of Adonis are similar, but the movie also shows that good stroytelling can help, even if someone can follow the tale and guess a good deal of what happens next. The fight scenes are exciting, and a guy with a chip on his shoulder can surprise the skeptics.
Jordan makes a very positive impression as a man following in the footsteps of the father he never knew. Like the man who eventually guides him, Adonis has the eye of the tiger, but he needs to hone his ring skills. He feels shunned when the boxing world sees him as a son of privilege, which helps to prepare him for the action in the ring, where his father once dominated. Before he became associated with muscle-bound characters like John Rambo and Barney Ross, Stallone was Rocky, an even bigger underdog than Adonis. Rocky Balboa never forgot his roots or his family, even as time has brought him to a point where he's living by himself. Though content with his life as it is, he keeps in touch with the fight game. Through his contacts, he shows Adonis the kind of training regimen that made Rocky a fighter who gave his best effort when he put on the gloves. Because of Adonis, Rocky finds that he shouldn't be too content with the things that happen. Real life boxers Bellew, Ward, and Rosado add an air of credibility with their appearances. Thompson also adds a nice touch as Bianca, who reminds Adonis that people show their love a little differently in Philadelphia than they do in Los Angeles.
In Creed, a young man hears a calling he finds impossible to ignore. His career fails to give him the satifaction he wants, and he follows a path that does not guarantee him success. In boxing, he clearly does have the skill, but that skill has yet to be put to a real test. When the opportunity arises, he wants those recognized as the best to know that he wants what they already have. A champion comes calling, and the young contender answers the bell. Creed is a sports story that shows that familiarity isn't always a bad thing. Only a few of the names are different in this boxing tale.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Creed 3.5 stars. Gonna fly again.