Creed follows Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed from an extramarital affair, who looks at his heritage as bearing the burden of a legacy he has to fight to earn. From a juvenile detention centre, Adonis is adopted by the wife of his father, who died in the ring before he was born and lives a comfortable life but can’t extinguish his fighting spirit. As with many boxers, for Adonis fighting is a release of aggression and a means of survival, but is also the way he chooses to prove to himself he is worthy of the father he never knew.
Unable to deny his urge to fight, Adonis gives up his office job, moves to Philadelphia, and begins the work of convincing Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to train him. The growing friendship between them is the emotional centre of the movie. Rocky has grown older and more melancholic, feeling his age and the weight of the loss that is intrinsic to aging. His days in the ring are truly over, and he represents the iconic history of boxing while Adonis must find his place in its future.
Creed follows a traditional and largely unsurprising narrative of training montages and fights but manages to still seem fresh and emotionally resonant. Adonis’s journey from an untrained newcomer to a worthy fighter isn’t exactly an exciting new take on the genre, but his underdog tale remains thrilling because of Jordan and Stallone’s sympathetic and layered performances. The film also manages to remain interesting despite the looming shadow of the franchise’s previous entries thanks to the artistic flourishes of director Ryan Coogler, such as a fight scene shot entirely in one single take. The final fight especially doesn’t shy away from the bloody, brutal reality of boxing, upping the stakes in a way that makes Adonis seem equally vulnerable and ferocious. Adonis’s struggle to become as powerful a boxer as his father is representative of his fight for a sense of identity and family, from which both he and the film walk away victorious.
Image: Patriarca12; wikimedia commons