The original Rocky was a sleeper movie – low budget, heartwarming story, and a lovable lunk mumbling “Yo, Adrian.” It won the Oscar for Best Picture back in 1977. Then the sequels arrived, each more outlandish than the next and the series became an excessive joke. Now, after a long time, Creed arrives on screen and it harks back to the original – a heartwarming story, a lovable lunk mumbles “Yo Adrian”, and there’s a kid with a chip on his shoulder who manages to prove to himself that he’s worthy of his name and he’s a fighter.
Michael B. Jordan is Adonis “Donny” Johnson, illegitimate son of Apollo Creed – the champion boxer back in the day. Donny fights his way through foster care until Apollo’s second wife takes him in and provides a home long after Apollo died. Donny never knew his father. Fast forward to today when Donny is winning fights in Mexico, quits his respectable financial job, moves to Philadelphia, and seeks out the Italian Stallion himself – Rocky Balboa. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) keeps a low profile these days running a restaurant. He has no intention of taking on a boxer to train. But something about this kid, the history, and the chance for redemption for Apollo.
Now the focus of the movie is on training – running through the streets of Philly (which looks awesome in this film), the physical and mental strain, the slow build-up to a huge match against Ricky “Pretty Boy” Conlan – a tough boy from Liverpool with a grand reach, fast feet, and a faster lip. Who has the staying power? Adonis Creed who must acknowledge his name and the demons that come with it? Or Rocky, old guy, who gets a medical diagnosis that ain’t pretty? They have to fight together.
Creed is a boxing movie and yes it culminates in the Big Fight. But it’s way more than that. It’s about esteem, family, history, guts, determination , roots, plus heart and soul. Michael B. Jordan is excellent – he’s physically ripped, but he’s more than that. His face reflects his feelings and you want to root for him. Sly Stallone is great too – he’s always been underrated, and he shows a deft touch as a mentor. Philly shines, and yes, you want to run up those Art Museum steps with the Rocky theme wafting over the city. Step into the ring and soar.