Creed draws on the entire Rocky canon’s rich history to reinvigorate an ailing franchise…
Whilst Rocky Balboa was no disgrace, it did feel like a franchise on it’s knees as believability was at all time low. What better way then for Sylvester Stallone to claw back some credibility by relinquishing some control on his most beloved invention and allowing up and coming director Ryan Coogler the chance to breath some life into a legend.
Coogler’s only previous feature film was the powerful and affecting Fruitvale Station. In sticking with Michael B. Jordan from that film, Coogler has a genuine future star in the eponymous role and it is Jordan who keeps things grounded in the more emotionally taxing scenes.
Much has been made of Sly’s surprising Oscar nomination and whilst it has a slight tinge of lifetime achievement award about it there is no denying that Stallone now has so much emotionally invested in this character. In a lifetime of returning to Rocky Balboa, Stallone can share The Italian Stallion’s heartbreak and world-weariness and this makes for a strong and nuanced performance.
Creed falls down somewhat in the supporting cast. Aside from a spirited turn from Tessa Thompson, Creed badly misses a Paulie or a Mickey or indeed an Apollo Creed. Real life boxer Tony Bellew brings some realism and gravitas to the actual boxing scenes but as an antagonist he is largely forgettable. Obviously being a Rocky film the fighting isn’t too realistic but this is a series trademark as much as a training montage and Apollo’s red, white and blue shorts.
In looking back through the entire Rocky franchise, Coogler, Stallone and Michael B. Jordan have pushed Creed forwards to the point where a sequel would not only be welcome but also highly anticipated.