CREED – REVIEW: Michael B. Jordan stars as Apollo Creed’s son who goes back in time to remake Rocky with Sylvester Stallone.
Michael B. Jordan is the beautifully name Narcissus Creed or Diaphanous Creed and Apollonius Creed. Shit, he’s called something. He’s had a troubled youth but with the help of his step mom he’s got a job in a good company and a future ahead of him. However, like father like son, Creed sneaks off to Mexico to get himself punched in the head on a regular basis. In order to finally pursue his dream, he makes his way to Philadelphia where, in the city of brotherly love, he meets up with his father’s former nemesis/friend Rocky Balboa, who reluctantly agrees to train him. As the media get wind of a great story, Creed is offered a shot at the title at Everton’s football ground in England (!?).
Ryan Coogler is to be applauded for having revamped Rocky in what is being called a legacy sequel – passing the movie franchise baton from one generation to the next (see also The Force Awakens). He films the fight scenes with the requisite dynamism and verve, though in giving us a jaw-dropping one shot punch up early on he rather shoots his bolt early. Ultimately, the Rocky franchise is one big family saga. Rewatching the whole bunch last Christmas, it’s amazing how well Stallone inhabits the character, even when the story around him is largely nonsense. The first Rocky is a wonderful character piece with a great sense of place which ought to compare favorably to Raging Bull. Jordan is a compelling son figure for the aging legend to mentor, though the relationship with Tessa Thompson’s singer ticks too many boxes and lands flat. A singer who is going deaf? Jesus Christ, I wonder if they had a whole list of tragic relationships. A painter who is going blind? No! A writer who is losing the plot? No! A ten pin bowler who is losing her fingers? etc.
As with Force Awakens, there are some beats which are so familiar as to fall into the realms of pastiche, and though I love Italian food normally, it would be better if these films relinquished some of their manufactured nostalgia to tell their own stories.