In an era that is criticized for having poorly made remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, and spinoffs, Creed stands out like a sore thumb. Deft direction from Ryan Coogler and strong performances from its leads prove that the Rocky formula is still as vital as ever.
The film succeeds because it utilizes the Rocky formula while maintaining its own flavor and identity. This prevents it from becoming a lazy rehash of a popular classic. Coogler and crew are reverent towards the original film without being slavish. They know that it’s more about the essence of what makes Rocky a great story rather than the finer details. This approach is most evident in the film’s clever remix of Bill Conti’s iconic Gonna Fly Now.
Ryan Coogler became a director to watch out for with Fruitvale Station but his work here proves that he’s no one hit wonder. Coogler crafts a potent sports drama without resorting to cheap opera. The fights are incredibly shot and choreographed. It’s hard to distinguish it from the real thing on TV. My personal favorite in the film is an entire boxing match shot with a single take!
The cast is no slouch either. Michael B. Jordan is a great lead as Adonis Creed. His knockout performance makes Adonis’ angst and daddy issues palpable. Jordan also has great chemistry with Sylvester Stallone, who puts in one of the best performances of his recent career.
Hollywood studios should take notes from Creed on how to extend the life of a franchise without looking trite. Think about it; studios nowadays struggle with adapting to the needs of diversity and crafting worthy sequels. Creed achieves all these with panache.
All in all, this is a fine film and definitely one of the best of the year. Rocky fans old and new will be happy to know that this franchise can still go the distance.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars