One has to agree that Hollywood makes boxing movies like no other country and when you have the legend Sylvester Stallone and the epic Rocky franchise backing up a film, you can be assured of a solid entertainer and that’s exactly what Creed is. It is an extremely well done film which works well as an action film as well as an absorbing drama. Sans a few issues which I will touch later in this review, the film is absolutely captivating. There is just enough action, training and drama to make this film worthwhile. Yes! That’s right. A boxing film has to have drama to motivate the protagonist into getting into boxing, it has to show some training just to underline the hard path that the protagonist has taken to becoming the champion and then there has to be the fights wherein he will prove his supremacy. All these factors need to gel in making a traditional and effective Boxing film.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is Apollo Creed’s son born outside matrimony. He has seen a lot of foster homes and is an aggressive kid who fights all the time. After Creed’s death his wife finds solace in bringing the kid Adonis home and ensuring that he has more to life than his father’s legacy. For once he does well and excels in his work but his father’s legacy keeps pulling him towards boxing and he ultimately gives in to the desire. He tries to get a foothold in the world of Boxing but needs a coach to hold his hands. He finds help in Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) who after some convincing agrees to help the guy. He also finds a love interest during his stay for training and she soon becomes his mirror. Someone who is his biggest fan and harshest critic. Adonis uses boxing to create a legacy of his own and prove that he is a worthy Creed. With Rocky he shares more than a coach-fighter relation. They both use each other to fill up the void in their lives.
Rocky starts training him by making him catch chickens. Those who have seen Rocky are aware of this trick used by Rocky’s trainer to make him quicker and it is something which is in many ways integral to the series. Following that he introduces him to a tough training regime which is depicted in quick cut montages which are all too familiar to boxing movies. The only exception is the practice that Adonis undertakes when Rocky is in hospital. Yes! Rocky gets sick and Adonis continues his training in the hospital with Rocky getting his therapy and the same time Adonis working out.
This film has two solid action sequences. The first match brings Adonis to light and makes him a hot property for gossips and news. A very well shot sequence which is done in practically one shot and which will bring back fond memories of previous Rocky films. The hero starts off getting thrashed and then goes on to win the bout by knockout. The opponent is scary and Adonis has to put in a lot of effort to make it through. That’s what we love about boxing right? The second and final fight between Adonis and the world champion leaves a lot to be desired. My biggest problem with this fight was that the antagonist is no where near in physicality to Michael B. Jordan. While Jordan has perfectly formed muscles that look like painstakingly crafted, this guy is tough in words alone. He doesn’t have the kind of physicality to give Jordan’s character the hard time that he is shown giving. Everytime he floors Adonis, something feels odd.
This is the kind of film which depends as much on the drama as it does on the action. I believe it will be wiser to say that it depends on the drama more than the action. The dramatic moments really work well. The chemistry between Rocky and Adonis totally works. They come close and then their relation falls apart because of some factors and the director is able to present that beautifully. You will be engrossed in their relation and that really sells the premise of the film. The romance between Jordan and Thompson works great as well. It could have turned cheesy so easily but the director does well to keep it real and beautiful. The relation between Adonis and his step mom is not given a lot of time but it really works everytime the story lays back on it.
The film’s action is well done sans the deficiencies I mentioned before and the fact that the action is propelled by charged emotions and the need to prove a point only makes them that much more real. Jordan has the physicality and also the acting range to portray a character like Adonis and he does a great Job with it. Stallone is charismatic in whatever he does and he is aging beautifully. He cannot put a single wrong step. I was mesmerized by his act. Look out for the scenes between him and Jordan. Creed is easily one of the better Boxing films of our time. It may not be a classic but it sure has enough merit to deserve a view or two. I will not go ga! ga! about it the way critics world over are but I will surely urge you to watch this film atleast once for its simmering drama, great action and its two lead actor’s performances.