ADMIT it. When you heard another Rocky movie was coming out – a seventh – you thought, really? How many Rocky movies do we need?
Well, it turns out we needed seven. At least.
From its very beginning in 1976, the Rocky story has been about proving you belong in the ring – not winning, necessarily, but showing you have the cred to be there in the first place. That’s why Rocky told Adrian: “All I wanna do is go the distance.”
And so Creed, directed by the talented Ryan Coogler and starring a fairly irresistible team of Michael B Jordan and (of course) Sylvester Stallone, shows it belongs in the ring from the first moments. With a deftly crafted blend of smarts and corn,it earns our trust: It’s gonna go right to the edge with the heartstring-tugging, but it won’t go over. So we can relax. We won’t hate ourselves in the morning.
And when the old Rocky music begins playing, as it inevitably will at a key moment, we’ll be able to laugh – happily, and not scornfully. The movie’s earned it.
Stallone is now 69, and Creed wisely doesn’t attempt to get Rocky Balboa back into the boxing gloves. This film’s about another fighter: young Adonis Johnson, whom we first meet as a child in a LA juvenile detention centre. Life has been hard; he’s the secret illegitimate son of boxing great Apollo Creed – Rocky’s former nemesis, of course – who died before Adonis was born. But fate smiles on the boy when Creed’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) takes him in.
Seventeen years later, Adonis (Jordan, exuding charisma and star power at every turn) is living in a mansion with mom and thriving at a finance job. But he can’t shake his passion for boxing. He heads to Philadelphia to find the Italian Stallion. Adonis wants to train with the best. Rocky, now grey, grizzled and weary, declines at first. “Why,” he wants to know, “would you pick a fighter’s life when you don’t need to?” (Adonis’ mother’s response was even more forceful: “Do you want brain damage?”) But Adonis wins Rocky over. The clash between Rocky’s old-school ways and Adonis’ modern existence is apparent.
HANDY TIPS: Sylvester Stallone as Rocky and Michael B Jordan as Adonis Johnson in