The end of the previous Rocky film, Rocky Balboa saw the title hero wave goodbye for the final time… but this is Hollywood – franchises never die, they are re-born in semi-sequels such as Creed.
Whilst Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, remains the heart of the series, he passes the torch to someone else. Obviously a younger person in order to develop more sequels although Creed manages to stand on its own to be as engaging as Rocky’s previous cinematic bouts.
Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) has grown up not knowing his father Apollo. A former world heavyweight boxing champion, Apollo gained fame for his ringside fights with Rocky Balboa (Stallone). Wanting to take over the mantle of his father, Creed contacts Rocky to help him train. Turning into a lean fighting machine, Creed develops his own ‘eye of the tiger’ to ready himself for a boxing battle.
Creed defies expectations to become a worthy addition to the Rocky series. Whilst some boxing clichés are present, Creed isn’t a film about the sport. It’s about legacies and finding your own identity. Although Rocky has carved his own niche in the field, he has to deal with the legacy left behind. Likewise Adonis struggles to come out from his famous father’s shadow to mark his own place. It’s a simple premise but, in director Ryan Coogler’s hands, it is freshly told and consistently engaging.
Stallone delivers a fine performance as his iconic character. Jordan matches his abilities well with his determined character. Creed rests squarely on their shoulders and they meet the challenge with aplomb. The boxing sequences are suitably energetic and excitingly staged with an authenticity previous entries lacked. This extends to the scenes of Rocky’s home-town with the gritty flavour echoing what made the series initially popular.
One can easily see a slew of Creed sequels after this. That’s certainly not a bad thing if Creed’s high quality is matched. It also proves there is life left in this enduring series sure to please loyal fans who have traded blows with Rocky over several decades.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7