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More a Rocky reboot than a sequel, by focusing on a new fighter with his own issues – while largely sticking firm to the traditional Rocky formula – Creed revitalises the series by putting a new spin on the old clichés.
After an opening where a young Adonis Creed (illegitimate son of former Rocky foe Apollo Creed) is rescued from juvie by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad), he becomes a man (Michael B Jordan) who splits his time between a suit-and-tie bank job and pit fighting in Mexico. Fighting wins, and he moves to Philadelphia to seek out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to be his trainer. Rocky’s turned his back on boxing, but he can’t turn his back on Creed – still, can Creed live up to the heavy expectations that come with his name?
Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitville Station) spins the usual underdog boxing tale a different way, as Creed struggles to prove himself to himself rather than to society or his family – a struggle that feels more resonant in a world where the old bonds are often weaker. The usual training montages and fights continue to satisfy (Coogler shoots one fight as one long take), while Jordan and Stallone have an easy chemistry together and display real chops as basically the same character at different stages of life. The formula works.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris