Creed: A nostalgic trip that fails to land its punches
Remember when Rocky used his briefly held stage to express his love for Adrian (Talia Shire)? Or when he beat Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) off the mat to earn himself the World Heavyweight Title? Or how about when he overcomes his own fears to tangle, a second time, with the beast that was Clubber Lang (Mr T)? God, how I wished for that from this continuation of the Rocky story, Creed.
Obviously I am a Rocky Balboa fan. I also have a huge amount of respect for Sylvester Stallone. I went into Creed wanting nothing more than to love it, and to feel those familiar feelings of exhilaration and inspiration that have accompanied most films in the Rocky franchise.
Unfortunately I didn’t. Even just a few minutes into the film I began to feel that it was going to be a long night. Michael B Jordan (Chronicle, Fantastic Four) puts in a solid performance as the title character, but is let down by a story that never quite allows the audience to embrace him as a hero we can believe in. His early rapport with Tessa Thompson (playing the romantic interest) is bumpy at best and often-times feels forced. Stallone fits easily back into the role of Rocky Balboa, and every time he appears on screen there is a noticeable lift in the tone of the film. The best moments of Creed belong to Stallone, and his mumbling, grumbling Rocky never fails to deliver.
As the story progresses the film feels like a roller coaster of audience engagement versus disinterest. By the time we come around to the climax of the movie, even Stallone can’t make us care as to whether or not his young charge succeeds or fails. Even then, as I secretly hoped for a first round knockout so I could beat the traffic home, round two delivers that burst of energy and excitement we have come to expect from previous Rocky outings. I had that brief moment – you know that one where he cuts Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Rocky IV and you think ‘now, this is getting exciting’. Unfortunately that little burst doesn’t last, and a premise that we had come to believe in in earlier films just falls flat in this one.
The absence of Stallone’s input into the screenplay is all too telling, and you have to wonder what might have been if he’d had a little more input into the build-up of the story and its introduction of new characters. Director Ryan Coogler struggles to bring together a cohesive story in a believable way – a crazy criticism to level at a Rocky film, I know, but a valid one, and the resulting Creed tells an all-to-familiar tale that falls well short of its predecessors.
Explosions and Action
Chaos and Carnage