The legacy of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) lives on in ‘Creed,’ the seventh film in the popular boxing franchise which began back in 1976 featuring the underdog Italian-American human punching bag (because he seldom takes the “guard” stance in the ring and too often leaves his head unprotected) Rocky Balboa. Rocky is now 69 and well into his twilight years, so he reluctantly plays the role of Mr. Miyagi to Michael B. Jordan’s Ralph Macchio, imparting his learned wisdom and experience to the young but talented misbegotten offspring of his late former adversary-turned-close friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
It turned out that, just before his cockiness got him killed by Ivan Drago’s 1,850-psi punch in ‘Rocky IV,’ Apollo cheated on his wife and sired a bastard son who took on the last name of his real mother. Adonis Johnson, now a strapping young lad in his early twenties, has shown a particular talent in following in his dad’s footsteps while holding down a nice yuppie job at a financial firm in LA. A self-trained amateur boxer bored with life and not challenged enough while beating down hapless opponents in Mexico, he gave up his well paying white collar job without batting an eye and moved to Philly in search of the legendary Rocky (now a restaurateur) to take him to the next level and realize his full pugilistic potential.
When you come down to it, ‘Creed’ is as formulaic and predictable as any of its predecessors, and yet it still somehow manages to seem fresh and new. There’s a natural chemistry between Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis and Stallone’s Rocky, and the screenplay co-written by director Ryan Coogler (who previously collaborated with Jordan on the excellent ‘Fruitvale Station’) dispensed with the cheesiness of prior ‘Rocky’ movies in favor of a grittier and more realistic feel. ‘Creed’ is about emerging from the shadows of your forebears and establishing your own legacy, and in that it succeeded by a knock-out.