This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 29th November 2015
If you thought the Rocky franchise finally went down for the count in 2006, boy, were you wrong. In teaming up the legendary old-timer with an up-and-coming director and some exhilarating ring-side photography, Creed reinvigorates the genre and delivers a terrifically enjoyable boxing movie.
Rocky’s back in the ring, but this time he’s training the illegitimate son of his former opponent, Apollo Creed. Young Adonis (an excellent Michael B. Jordan, all grown up from his early appearance in The Wire) wants to make his own legacy under his adopted mother’s name, but in order to fight the crème de la boxing crème, inevitably he must trade on his heritage.
It may be the simplest of narratives, but it’s the realism of the telling which excels. Up against Liverpudlian “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (real-life boxer Tony Bellew, with his death-stare and intriguingly non-Hollywood accent), Creed’s journey takes us from gritty, grey Philadelphia, where Mighty Mick’s now looks like any 21st century gym, to gritty, grey Liverpool. Jordan’s own boxing prowess is impressive, and the story is dotted with brilliantly credible HBO sports promos which aid your suspension of disbelief that every punch is being thrown for real.
As you might expect, while the young buck teaches the old dog new tricks, the girl next door salves his childhood wounds. But it’s in the ring that Creed really catches fire, with a breath-taking continuous shot throughout one fight and trumpets heralding victory on the soundtrack. Judging by this, a sequel to Creed would be no bad thing at all.