Adonis Johnson (played by Michael B. Jordan) looks at his reflection in the mirror. His mentor Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) tells him that the man he sees looking back at him is his greatest opponent, in boxing and in life. This is the essence of Ryan Coogler’s Creed, a boxing movie that concerns itself with the fight between one’s inner demons, just as much as the fights that take place in the ring. It would not be fair to call Creed a sequel, or even a reboot, of the Rocky franchise. While familiar elements are at play here, such as Stallone reprising his role as the Italian Stallion, Adonis watching the classic Creed/Rocky fight on youtube, and a heartening visit to Paulie and Adrian; the film creates more than it imitates.
Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, grew up in group homes and juvenile detention centers before being taken in by the widow of the father he never knew. Despite all the opportunity his new life provides him, running through his veins is the blood of a fighter. Creed acts as both a macho boxing movie and sensitive coming-of-age tale, with Adonis’s attempts to become a professional boxer taking the backseat to his need to find himself and ultimately step out of his father’s shadow. His motivations to fight constantly come into question, the trainer at his father’s gym says he’s too soft, Rocky insists he’s too smart to fight, including his girlfriend Bianca (played marvelously by Tessa Thompson) telling him he doesn’t “look like a boxer”. All of these things said, when it seems as if Creed is dabbling in vulnerability and sensitivity for too long, it gives you some of the most exciting and well choreographed boxing scenes you’ve ever seen (including a fight that is composed of 1 shot).
Now lets get down to brass tax as to why socially this film is so damn important. If you watched the 2016 Oscars you might’ve caught Chris Rock’s joke about Rocky being a science fiction movie because of a white boxer’s athletic superiority over black boxers. It was a funny dig, one that seemed to bring subtle discomfort from the audience, but all jokes aside, how is Creed the first boxing movie centered around a black boxer(Ali aside obviously)? Has anyone in Hollywood watched a boxing match in the past 50 years? Do they think it is beyond white audiences to root for a black boxer? Perhaps it took a black Writer/Director, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), to rectify what I can’t imagine to be an innocent oversight by Hollywood. Coogler went through hell to get this movie made, he’s said this movie is a testament to his late father and the movie franchise that brought them together. The blood, sweat and tears, are evident on the screen and behind the camera. Creed packs a punch, literally as well as emotionally, so see it with your boys or see it with your girl, as long as you see this shit.