Words by: Jack Dawson
The Rocky series has certainly had its hits and misses over the years. From a gritty tale of a true underdog who counts losing as a victory to an American hero taking on those dirty Soviets while purchasing a sentient robot for Paulie (Rocky VI was a hell of a ride). After capping the series off with Rocky Balboa back in 2005, someone decided to focus on Apollo Creed, or more accurately, his son. And the result is one of the best films of 2015, as well as the most thrilling action movie in theatres right now.
And it gives you an excuse to revisit all of the Rocky movies.
Adonis Johnson is a man with a secret. In fact he’s man with a lot of secrets, but the two most important (and plot-relevant) secrets are that he secretly indulges in underground boxing when not working at his white-collar job, and he is the bastard son of Apollo Creed. Haunted by his father’s legacy, he travels to Pennsylvania to reconnect with his Father’s background, as well as get advice from a certain Italian-American boxer. A near constant stream of references to the previous Rocky films ensues.
I’m not sure how much I should talk about the previous films, it’s been some time since I saw them and although taking potshots at movies like Rocky VI is fun it is also a bit redundant by this point. But Creed almost requires you to know at least something about each of the films, if only so you can understand the constant references and callbacks. A quick trawl of Wikipedia should be serviceable, and maybe fit in another viewing of the first film if you get the chance.
Mind you I do wonder at the wisdom of basing an entire film around the death of Apollo Creed, if only because that occurred at the hands of the absurdly overpowered Drago in Rocky VI. Which means that I have to think about the film as a whole, which means I end up thinking about…
Creed is, beyond many of the superficial similarities, a stunning evocation of the ideals and spirit of the first Rocky film, and might be of equal quality. Michael B. Jordan (who must be thanking his lucky stars that he was signed on to this film before Fantastic Four) is fantastic as Adonis, and Sylvester Stallone feels more at place as an aged Rocky than he has in almost any other project in the past few years. These two are what makes the movie, and the otherwise superb cast is just the icing on the cake.
The pacing, the editing, the lighting, the music, and the action are all top-notch as well, culminating in a boxing match that stands as one of, if not the best, in the series. This is partly because the film is well made on a technical level, and partly because the emotional weight behind the characters and the central conflict of legacy that plagues Adonis Creed rings true.
I’m inclined to keep this review short, since ceaseless praise tends to be boring to read. And I have nothing but praise for this film, which probably reflects poorly on my objective faculties. I’m sure that flaws in the film will become clear in time, but right now I struggle to think of a single scene or occasion which should have been cut for time.
I guess the only meaningful advice I have to say is, go see it.