Writer/director Ryan Coogler picks begins with Adonis Johnson/Creed (Michael B Jordan), the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), in juvenile detention after the unfortunate passing of his biological mother. Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) decides that she needs to take Adonis into foster care, despite the pain of seeing the result of her husband’s infidelity. Fast-forward to his adulthood, set for life where he doesn’t have to fight, stuck in a sterile corporate finance existence, Adonis finds himself called towards his family legacy. After a series of barely professional bouts in a series of Mexican bars, Adonis decides to quit his job and go to Philadelphia to pursue the profession that is uncontrollably coursing through his veins. Finding Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) his spiritual Uncle, Bianca (Tessa Thompson) a musical muse, he begins a path towards turning professional.
Coogler’s Creed took an adrenaline shot to the heart of the retired Rocky franchise. It’s a fresh approach to the world from a wholly new perspective, with electrifying talent behind the lens (Coogler). The sport of boxing has always held up a discomforting reflection to fighter’s country of origin, because predominantly, fighters emerge from those communities of lower socio-economic status. So in the 2015, Coogler paints the tapestry of the African American community that continues to wrestle with status and stature, none more than Adonis Creed. Nothing makes sense about wanting to fight. Running everyday for hours in the dark, going into a gym to work harder than any profession, retooling your body into a weapon to face another warrior for entertainment; but if that’s what it takes to find out who you are; then it’s worth it. Michael B. Jordan’s performance finds the perfect pitch for that contradiction. There’s a deeper search for belonging that he’s seeking from the ring. Sometimes it’s not as simple as acknowledgement, it is the fears of the undeniable; your origin.
There’s nothing more rousing than Stallone’s Rocky guiding Adonis (Jordan) toward his dream. You can feel the current when they’re on screen. Jordan is the audience, talking to Rocky as family and idol and with the affection that we feel from the confines of our cinema seat. Tessa Thompson’s Bianca is Adonis’ musician neighbour and they are irrevocably drawn together. For a large part of the film their relationship grates, but patience pays off as Jordan and Thompson deliver the most undeniably moving exchange of the film.
The Rocky franchise has always been close to my heart; boxing you could say, is in my blood. Rocky was your inspiration throughout your life, yet as the franchise gained entries the path felt unattainable. Creed taps into that desire to follow your heroes and shows you the way to disrupt the norm, take the reigns of your life and your name and step in the ring.
Creed is about finding yourself at any cost. If Rocky was a K.O, Creed is a T.K.O.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson