AM At The Movies: ‘Creed’

Above: Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan star in 'Creed'

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Run Time: 133 minutes

This is how you do a boxing movie. Take note, people responsible for Southpaw.

Writer/director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) handled everything about this film with aplomb, bringing in the right amount of the Rocky legacy while still focusing on taking the franchise in a different direction, even if Creed isn’t intended to be the first of several films in a series.

There were a lot of easy ways to screw up this movie – including going the Rocky 5 route – but Coogler avoided them all, instead giving his star room to shine and having the man he calls “Unk” throughout the film add unexpected depth, colour and flavour.

Michael B. Jordan shines the titular role as Adonis Creed/Donnie Johnson, delivering the kind of commanding performance that will have a lot of people who didn’t see him do an amazing job when he teamed up with Coogler on Fruitvale Station to stand up and take notice. He’s been a young actor on the rise for some time now and this should be the effort that launches him to that next level going forward.

He’s got a complete set of tools and shows many of them here, standing out in a strong film that was destined to get scrutiny because it was entering into a world so many people are passionate about.

As much as Jordan is stellar from start to finish, Stallone is drawing a ton of praise for his performance, all of which is deserved. Just like the film could have gone off the rails very easily, Stallone bringing back the character that first made him famous could have been a disaster, but instead, he portrays a more understated, weathered and content version of the former champion, who has settled into life running a restaurant, away from the fight game.

If he doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, something is wrong with the Academy; he was that good.

The action is solid throughout – one shots for the fight scenes and having the actors take the shots is the way to go – but what really makes this film work is that it doesn’t pander to the audience or rely on the standard boxing tropes. We get a human story told through boxing, rather than a story about boxing, if that makes sense.

Jordan and Coogler, in tandem or independent of one another, need to be on your radar and near the top of your “I want to see what they do next” list; the former has the potential to be one of the best actors of his generation and Coogler has already delivered a pair of excellent films in very different genres and he’s only 29, so the best for both is yet to come.

Anyone that was skeptical of Creed when it was announced or they first saw the trailers – divorce yourself of those thoughts and do yourself a favour: see this movie.

You can thank us later. 

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