Disclaimer: I’ve never watched a single Rocky movie. That may be a cinema sin, but I wasn’t born yet when those movies were out, and at least I know the main theme when I hear it. Ba da daaaaa. Ba da daaaaa. Ba da daaaaa. You know it too! I decided to watch Creed because it got good reviews, and I’ve never really watched a movie about boxing before, though I do respect it as the toughest sport on Earth, and so I was curious. If you are undecided, you should go watch it now before reading this review, and that’s me giving you some quality free advice.
I went into the movie expecting some sort of pretentious macho circlejerk, but the movie never comes off like that. The protagonist is indeed a juvenile delinquent initially, and when he grows up he inexplicably gives up a very comfortable job to pursue a career in boxing. But it isn’t difficult to understand the choices he makes, and it’s not because he’s a tough guy or needs to prove he has balls. He’s doing it because he needs to prove something to himself, and there are few motivations that are as respectable as that.
Overall, the hero of the story is a down-to-earth man, and while he has a quick temper he does care for those around him, and his issues, though uncommon, are relatable. No one wants to live in their father’s shadow, and a lot of people know what it’s like to grow up without a father. Boxing is what he uses to vent, but it is also what gives him purpose, and the film does a good job keeping this premise simple and in focus.
Stallone’s character is also a big plus for the story. It’s not about him anymore, but the film would seriously miss him if he wasn’t in it. The script is to be commended for balancing the fact that there is a new main character while Rocky is still in the picture. Rocky never steals the show, but he still provides some of the more memorable scenes, both funny and serious.
While Michael B. Jordan delivers a good performance throughout the film, I find myself stopping short of calling him great. I’m not sure whether it’s because of his acting or if it was the script. Adonis Johnson comes across as a mellow, chill, type of person. He’s not bland or dry, but he doesn’t feel memorable either. The most that can be said about him is that he does come across as a personification of hard work and grit, but he never really does anything to win over the audience’s hearts (not that he’s obliged to or anything).
Part of this may be due to the fact that his motivation seems to be a bit blurry. In the beginning he wants to be a boxer because he looks up to his father, but then there are also scenes sprinkled throughout that suggests he resents his father for not being there. The climax of the movie, in my opinion, is when Adonis finally states that he wants to win in order to prove he’s not a mistake. If it’s really just for himself, then the drama that came before about not wanting to use Creed’s name seems superfluous. But this isn’t a deal breaker for the film. It feels more like there were a couple of things the film wanted to say, and while they don’t necessarily contradict one another they don’t seem to fit together either, though the incongruity is only slight.
What makes this film great is that it never loses sight of its primary focus: to tell a story about hard work and finding the proper motivation. I think the reason the movie stays real is because it’s blunt about the issues it’s dealing with.
Sometimes fathers aren’t around and there’s really nobody to blame. Cancer is a real kick in the balls, but you gotta find a reason to fight instead of just giving up. There’s also issues of self-worth, relationships, and friendship in the film, and everything is dealt with efficiently without the movie ever feeling like it’s harping on us. The entire cast does a great job portraying their characters as just regular people trying to get by, dealing with what life throws at them, and so the movie itself is an entertaining story that never sugarcoats nor over-dramatize anything.. Keeping it simple, without fluff or trying too hard to say something, is what makes Creed an excellent film.
Definitely go watch Creed if you can. It’s not a must-watch, but it is a welcome break from the generic Hollywood blockbusters. It is a film that has several big name actors, distilled into simple and poignant roles, resulting in a movie that isn’t trying to do anything but tell a good story. Except it may make you conscious of how out of shape you are. Doesn’t help that I had a large bag of buttered popcorn either…
This has been a gamobo review.