Ok, I’m just gonna get straight into it. Sylvester Stallone can act. Sure I’ve enjoyed him as a cinematic icon in Rocky and Rambo, but nothing like this. I am desperately gunning for him to get an Oscar nod because he deserves to be recognised in this film. But even aside from Stallone’s performance, this movie is good. Really good.
Creed is directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky rival Apollo Creed, who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxer. He promptly seeks out an aged Rocky (of course played by Sylvester Stallone) to train him to live up to his father’s legacy. The plot is basically a rehash of the first Rocky movie with a fresh coat of paint, which doesn’t make it particularly original. However, Cooglers direction makes this film feel distinct from any Rocky that has come before. His camera work, close ups and long takes are all tight and deliberate and coupled with a smooth pace, Creed is never boring. One scene in particular is quite possibly the best sequence I have seen all year, a 5 minute boxing match in a single take. Let that sink in. A single take. My jaw was on the floor for the entire scene. Coogler deservedly has a bright future ahead of him, evidenced by him being rumoured for Marvel’s Black Panther.
Michael B. Jordan is equally as impressive as Adonis. Jordan has consistently been solid throughout all his recent ventures (just forgot about Fantastic Four) and nothing’s different here – he’s driven but insecure, tough but still very likeable. Tessa Thompson also appears as Bianca, a love interest for Adonis, and she is perfectly serviceable. They have believable chemistry and their relationship is interesting enough to not be grating, even if it does just feel like a rehash of Rocky’s relationship with Adrian in the first film. Now, on to Rocky himself… as you could have probably deduced by the introduction, I adored Stallone in this film. He has a weariness and calm subtlety I have never seen in any of his performances. I never thought I’d say Stallone and subtlety in the same sentence but there it is. Sylvester Stallone for best supporting actor thanks.
The soundtrack for the most part is also innovative and lends itself very well to Coogler’s direction. It would have been so easy to just fall back on the iconic music of the franchise but composer Ludwig Coransson only takes certain elements of what came before and turns it into something fresh and exciting. There is a number of rap songs sprinkled throughout which also fit well, although sometimes it does clash with the dialogue which is slightly frustrating. There is one particular moment however, which I don’t want to spoil, where the original theme is used to pinpoint perfection – I was almost on my feet cheering when that musical cue appeared.
So while Creed may have some minor flaws and isn’t a completely original story, it is still undoubtedly one of my favourite films of the year. Everything from Coogler’s direction, to the music and the performances makes this soft reboot of the Rocky franchise quite possibly the best in the series. And I reiterate again… Stallone for best supporting actor. That is all.
General Audiences: Must-Watch
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended