Thursday, December 3, 2015


***1/2 out of ****

In the seventh entry in the Rocky series – and the first to take a spinoff turn -Creed introduces us to a new lead character and naturally turns Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) into the mentor. Our hero is Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordon), a man who chooses boxing as an outlet for his drive to fight. He’s traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to find Rocky Balboa with a buried secret to tell him: He’s the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s once-competitor-then-friend who was killed in the ring in a very silly sequel.

Adonis is torn on how to feel about the father he never knew, but determined to make it as a Boxer. The motivation is vague, but Stallone sells Rocky's gradual choice to train Adonis. What follows is a predictable movie with a slightly compelling love interest (Tessa Thompson) and the typical all-is-lost bummer section of Act II. If 007 can get away with it, Rocky can too... but with a montage... or two... or three.

While Stallone, who has always been artistically involved in the franchise, came to this project as a producer, it is impressively the auteur effort of director Ryan Coogler, whose 2013 film Fruitvale Station was a major critical hit of that year. Michael B. Jordon, who starred in that film as well, does a big transformation to justify going up against the tough bodies of some real fighters.

I can only imagine that Coogler wrote and captured this energetic film as a passion project inspired by Stallone’s passion to keep this simple character and his world alive. This is formulaic-yet-fun movie of the strongest kind.

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