Review: Creed Has A Great Pace, A Compelling Story, And Shows That Stallone Still Has It
Director: Ryan Coogler
Screenwriter: Ryan Coogler (screenplay and story), Aaron Covington (screenplay), and Sylvester Stallone
Principal Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, and Tony Bellew
Summary: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.
I have a confession; I haven’t seen all of the Rocky movies. I’ve seen the first two but I honestly couldn’t tell you if I’ve seen the rest. I enjoyed them both for what they were but I didn’t see them until I was much older so I don’t have any nostalgic attachment to them that many others do. However, since Stallone has had almost a career revival due to the Expendables movies, I wasn’t that surprised when I found out that another movie in the Rocky universe was being made. I was surprised, however, with the direction they decided to take it. The cliché is fairly typical but if you saw a trailer for Creed you probably wouldn’t know it was a Rocky movie until Stallone shows up. I felt like I was going to be able to look at Creed from a slightly different angle since I wasn’t a fan of the series it was spinning off from.
Creed once again proves that Michael B. Jordan is a great actor (when given good material), but also that Stallone is willing to stand back and let his age show in an extremely well-paced movies.
I mention the pacing right away because this movie is long, almost two and a half hours, and when I saw that I groaned out loud before the movie started. The last two and a half hour movie I had to sit through was Spectre which somehow felt even longer and I was not looking forward to doing it again. Creed, however, doesn’t feel long at all because it is so well-paced. The story moves at a brisk pace as the story is told over the course of several months. There are training montages and fights and boxing and everything else you would expect from a movie like this, yet there wasn’t a single moment that I thought the movie felt long. The only time I noticed how long the movie was was after I stood up after the credit rolled. That is great pacing and great writing at work.
The other boxing movie this year, Southpaw, didn’t work for me because the boxing moments weren’t as compelling as the human story that was being told. In Creed I was as invested in the fighting as I was with the human story. Perhaps it was because the human story wasn’t as horrible or life changing as it was in Southpaw but they seemed to balance each other better. This is helped along by Jordan and Stallone putting forth some career best work. Sometimes people forget that Stallone is a good actor when he’s not being a meathead action star and this shows that. I was surprised at how old he let himself look, almost frail at times, which is surprising for someone who has made a career out of looking like he could take on the world. Jordan also steps up to show that while the Fantastic Four was a horrible movie he can indeed act. He really makes you feel like you understand his apprehension for taking on his father’s name.
The movie likes to make little callbacks to the previous movies in ways that I liked but aren’t obnoxious about it. They play the theme in bits and pieces throughout the entire movie, but never in full, since this isn’t a movie about Rocky but a movie about Donnie instead. The entire story is about finding your own identity, and rehashing the theme wouldn’t have much point to that. Jordan and Stallone also have a great mentor-mentee/father-son bond that I enjoyed watching. They play off of each other well and you believed that they got along. Donnie’s girlfriend character Brianna (Tessa Thompson) also has her own subplot that is interesting to watch unfold, and their romance more or less makes sense and feels genuine.
Creed is a movie that I can’t really come up with anything I didn’t like about it. While I didn’t love it the way that fans of the Rocky series no doubt will, as someone who isn’t a fan of those movies or of boxing I really enjoyed it. This is one that you should check out even if you think you aren’t the target demographic.