Sly Stallone has played the character of Rocky Balboa on and off for the last 40 years but Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, has seen his hard work finally pay off. If Rockys I through VI were warm ups, this is the main event. Nabbing a slew of awards, including a Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor looking highly likely, it’s safe to say that this is his shining moment. And one of his greatest performances.
When Adonis ‘Donny’ Johnson goes looking for his past, the journey takes him to former boxing champ Rocky. Donny’s father, whom he never met, was Balboa’s former rival Apollo Creed. Determined to create his own legacy, Johnson becomes Rocky’s new student and begins training to take on the heavyweight champ in the biggest fight of his career. Sound familiar? The subject of Creed could easily slip into cliche territory, and at times maybe it does. But, at the core of this story is a big heart.
Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Donny. Criminally ignored during awards season, he is still relatively new in the leading man role (he was previously a knockout in 2013’s Fruitvale Station) yet he commands audience attention throughout. The final fight scene of the film is enough to prove his chops; one part exhilarating, another heartbreakingly emotional. Tessa Thompson puts in an intoxicating performance as singing love interest Bianca and the always brilliant Phylicia Rashad is stunning as Apollo’s widow and Donny’s guardian. Rashad’s turn in particular is pivotal and she underplays every nuance of her character so beautifully.
Creed, of course, belongs to Stallone, however, as an ageing Rocky. This is father figure to Rocky. This is emotional Rocky, a Rocky missing his dead wife and old friends. This isn’t a stereotype or a cliche. Stallone is fully deserving of the limelight he is currently basking in. During an argument with his young prodigy, he says, “Time takes everybody out. Time’s undefeated”. Stallone proves in Creed there’s still a lot of fight left in him yet.
Creed is in cinemas now