Ryan Cooglers Creed is, more than just the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, a reboot of the series for a modern audience both in its characters and aesthetics. Though I enjoyed this new take on a familiar story arc, I feel that without the nostalgia of the original Rocky (1976) Creed wouldn’t be as strong as it is.
Even without this nostalgia, Creed still excels in several areas; a strong lead performance from the extremely charismatic Michael B Jordon carries the film as he brings likeability to a potentially clichéd character arc of accepting ones heritage. Maryse Albertis beautiful cinematography keeps the fights fresh and riveting, standing out from other boxing films especially with the brilliant one shot fight that just has to be seen. At several points I was reminded of the brilliant fights from Scorsese’s Raging Bull – cementing Creed’s status as a defining sports film of the 2010’s.
Creed is not without its faults though; while Tessa Thompson gives a strong performance, her character (a musician slowly going deaf) felt a bit too ironic and clichéd. A few stylistics choices like freeze frames giving information on Adonis’ opponents also felt a bit out of place within the rest of the film.
Seeing Rocky old and sick, barely able to climb the iconic steps, was truly a sombre experience; I haven’t been this emotionally battered by a performance of Sylvester Stallone’s since seeing the original Rocky. Here we see his story arc come full circle from amateur boxer to expert trainer but the man remains the same and revisiting his world was one of the highlights of this film for me. However, when seeing the film with a friend unfamiliar with the other Rocky films, he seemed a bit unamused by Stallone and while this may just be his opinion, I think its important to consider how Creed stacks up as a standalone feature. While I may not have become as tearful at Rockys struggle, I still believe the inner turmoil of Adonis Johnson/Creed as he tries to make his own legacy creates a layered, emotionally charged film.