A new era. A new generation. A new legacy has begun.
First, to address the elephant in the room. I didn’t really want to see this movie. I had no real intentions of seeing it and was more than happy to let it pass me by. But when Cineworld announced a a preview screening for Unlimited card holders I booked a ticket, yet remained uncertain. Then Cineworld had to throw its toys out the pram and refuse to show ‘Hateful 8’. To maintain this weekly cinema-going challenge I almost had to attend.
Now that may be slight information overload, but hopefully it has served a narrative purpose – in establishing the disinterest, bordering on disdain, I felt upon entering Screen 7 at the CIneworld at the O2 arena (have I painted a clear enough picture yet?) Now you should be able to understand the surprise I felt, and admittedly still feel,for how I much I loved this movie. I expected a run-of-the-mill hero’s journey story arc, a mundane blend of drama and people getting punched in the face. But ‘Creed’ truly and utterly defied my expectations – instead being an incredibly emotive feel-good movie will some brutal and realistic fight sequences.
1998. Adonis Johnson has been caught in the middle of a fight in the Los Angeles youth facility and been put in isolation. Again. However this time the young boy has a visitor – Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), the wife of deceased former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Adonis was conceived during an extramarital affair that Apollo had. Mary Anne offers to take in Adonis as he has no-one else. Seventeen years later and Adonis( Michael B. Jordan) still feels conflicted in his love of his father and his love of boxing. Deciding to pursue his instincts Adonis travels to Philadelphia and gets in touch with his father’s old friend and rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the hopes of persuading him to be his coach. In Philadelphia he also meets Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a woman who also has a passion that drives her. Philadelphia may provide Adonis with a new start but it is also haunted by his father’s legacy.
Rather disarmingly, ‘Creed’ shares much with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Both are the seventh films in the franchise. Both belong to franchises which possess recent additions that were of poor-to-awful quality. Most importantly – both of the new releases are successful post-modern sequels that reinvigorate the stalemate series. ‘Creed’, in a joyfully unironic manner, shows a human being with a passion that consumes him. Adonis has an innate need to box, yet remains constantly aware and is frustrated by the fact he must remain in his father’s shadow. A man he never got the chance to meet. What makes the film so marvellous is is that this conflict is not overly reliant on the dialogue to convey this conflict. Yes the dialogue itself is crisp and realistic, but it’s not the only provider of exposition.
It’s built upon with fantastic performances from all the cast. It’s brilliant to finally see Sylvester Stallone is a good movie after years in the cinematic wilderness. Then there’s, rather unexpectedly perhaps, the cinematography. The camera-work on this film is astounding. The choices that have been made are so clever and convey so much. For instance, very early on, we observe Adonis watching a projection of his father in the ring. Adonis then gets up next to the screen and imitates the punches of his father’s opponent. Not only does the camera-work in this sequence make the scene intensive, but the lighting reinforces the notion that Adonis constantly lives metaphorically in the shadow of his father. The scene that is truly stand-out is one of the fight sequences: an entire fight sequence that is one shot – no cuts, no breaks and no respite from the action. The camera places us at the heart of the action, the fighting itself is brutafully (new word I’ve made up for this purpose) choreographed, but it’s the decision to let it play out in one-shot that is remarkable.
The story itself isn’t particularly complicated, often following expected beats and rhythms.Yet somehow, with the aforementioned blend of cinemagic, it’ll manage to capture your heart. You may even find yourself cheering at the end.