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Creed Review: vibrant refresh of the franchise

Creed is an incredibly vibrant refresh of the Rocky franchise that brings the character and the sport of boxing into the limelight with fleetingly adept filmmaking.

Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, is a thoroughly entertaining film that lives up to the Oscar-level beats of the original that kicked it all off. Adonis Johnson, played by Michael B. Jordan, is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed who can’t help but be drawn to the sport that made his father a legend. He adopts the name, reaches out to Sylvester Stallone’s degrading Rocky Balboa and looks to make his own legacy despite the paternal shadow that consistently looms over his career.

This film is not only a triumph for the Rocky franchise but for director Ryan Coogler. This is a young director who watched the originals with his father and transcends that emotion into every sweaty scene of Creed. The camera feels like a boxer in the ring, it lingers, it frames Philadelphia in grimy and tangible reality. There is one particular fight that engrosses and captures in a single take sequence of epic proportions. Coogler does an amazing job at updating the Rocky franchise and with Creed he not only looks back at the vastness of the originals but looks forward to a prosperous future.

Michael B. Jordan is subtly brilliant as the new face of the lucrative IP but the real star is Sylvester Stallone. It is no surprise that some are lobbying for a supporting Oscar nomination in Stallone’s name because the ageing action star turns in one of his best performances. It may sound peculiar but that the harsh faced star turns in a dogged and warm turn. Creed is a good movie but with Stallone filling a Mickey-like role, it is elevated into a great one.

And at its core, Creed tells three stories with such ease. We have the ‘whole-world-against-you’ tale of Adonis Johnson/Creed. We have the returning to family and life narrative attached to Rocky. And we have the aspirational and empathetic tale following Tessa Thompson’s Bianca.

Creed is a thoroughly titillating boxing movie that inherently musters nostalgia but doesn’t falter in telling a new story. Coogler and Stallone are the stars of this tale but Jordan is the shining light moving forward.

Score – B+

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