by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson. Directed by Ryan Coogler.
Almost forty years since the original Rocky film boxed its way into box office history – and gained the Oscar for Best Film of 1976 – the franchise has been given a dusting off, and a reboot for a new generation. Creed is centred on Donnie “Hollywood” Johnson (Jordan), the son of the late Apollo Creed, the champion from the very first Rocky film, and as we’re reminded a number of times, perhaps the greatest boxer that ever lived.
Donnie is introduced to us as an unsatisfied man working in finance, who chooses quit his job to chase his dream of becoming a professional boxer. To this point, he has managed to keep his identity under wraps, and hopes to make it on his own, without anyone knowing who his father was. But this gets trickier when he moves to Philadelphia and links up with retired boxer Rocky Balboa (Stallone), who now works at a restaurant and spending his days unloading bags of onions from delivery trucks. Balboa takes him under his wing, and through a number of training montages (hey – this is a Rocky film after all), underdog Donnie rapidly rises to fame – of course, that is until everyone works out who he really is.
I really enjoyed Creed. It’s a sports film that is shot beautifully. Extended tracking shots in the ring are astounding, and never grow dull, and watching Donnie’s rise to fame is exciting. At over two hours in runtime, the film never drags. Michael B. Jordan is perfect in the title role, and Stallone’s performance is also commendable – particularly as his character faces personal challenges in the film’s latter half. The portrayal of Philadelphia is both gritty and real – and will make you salivate for a cheese steak. My one criticism of this film is the way it handles Tessa Thompson’s Bianca. She is introduced as an interesting and different character (and Thompson’s performance is strong) but she soon fades into the background as Donnie’s token girlfriend – and their love for each other is never quite well-developed.
‘It makes me feel alive’
Creed is centred on chasing dreams. We see Donnie strive to be a boxing champion, Bianca chase her dream of making music – and all because these things make them feel alive. I think we can all relate to this feeling – and as Rocky states while training Donnie, we are our own greatest enemy at achieving our dreams.
As Donnie soon lives in the shadow of his father, and comparisons are made by the media, it got me thinking about Jesus. The Son of God came to this earth, and rather than chasing his own dreams, he was obedient to the Father – even to the cross. Philippians 2:8 –
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
As we chase our dreams and ambitions in life, and whatever it is that makes us feel truly alive – it’s important that we consider Jesus, who gave up his life so that we might truly live. He has blessed us with so many things in this life to enjoy, but to follow him is the greatest thing we could ever pursue.
The Verdict: Creed is one of the year’s best films, and packs a solid punch. It’s a worthy reboot of the Rocky franchise. Go and see this on the big screen. 4.5/5
Creed is screening now in cinemas everywhere.