Forty years ago Sly Stallone was nominated for an Oscar for playing the role of Rocky Balboa. At that point, you would have been insane if you’d chosen to bet on him getting a nomination for the same role in 2016. Here we are, though, and not only has Creed allowed Sly to rediscover his mojo, but it may have dragged the Rocky franchise back from the brink.
It has done that by moving the focus away from Rocky himself and onto Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo. We watch him walk away from a good job to follow in his father’s footsteps. The catch, he doesn’t want to use his dad’s name, but he does want his greatest foe to train him.
In many ways, Creed follows the template. Much like Terminator: Genisys or The Force Awakens you could place it over the original and it would hit all the same points. There is a love interest, more than one training montage and an underdog fighting to get to the top. Yet it doesn’t hurt the film. Everything is done so well that you don’t notice that, you are too busy getting caught up in the moments.
A lot of that credit has to go to director Ryan Coogler and his cinematographer Maryse Alberti. They manage to make Creed feel fresh, with their shooting of the fights in particular, standing out. The camera swoops around the combatants and gives the impression that the encounters are shot in one take, bringing you into the action. It is hard to make boxing stand out on screen in 2016, yet this manages it.
They’re also aided by Sly finally acting his age and reminding everyone that this guy is not a joke. Gone is his attempts to ape the macho nature of his youth and instead he plays an old man, who is passing on his knowledge to the next generation. He isn’t afraid to appear frail and that’s a great thing to see. He’s not alone though and Michael B. Jordan holds up his side of the bargain. This being a boxing film, his look will get focused on, and he does appear to be channeling a God. But more importantly he holds his own on the acting front too. This is a young guy trying to find his place in the world and you believe in his journey.
When I first heard about Creed I expected the worse. It just seemed a bad idea and yet now, with news having already broke that a sequel will be made, I can’t wait to see where they go next. Creed sees Rocky going in a new direction but at the same time maintaining what made it what it was. It’s a fresh look at an old idea, and I want to see more of it.