I didn’t even know this movie was in the making. I was intrigued when I saw the preview. Apollo Creed’s son was going to box. My mind was buzzing on how Rocky IV and Creed would merge. After months of waiting, I got the chance to see Creed. I was not disappointed.
The movie starts with a young Adonis Johnson who is a resident of a juvenile detention facility. While in solitary confinement for fighting, he receives a visit from a lady. During their conversation, she tells him that his father was her husband. That lady was Mary Ann Creed (Phylicia Rashad). Flash forward 10 years later; Adonis is a corporate executive during the week, and a self-taught, back alley boxer on the weekend. Mary raised him since his mother had passed away. Adonis makes the conscious decision to leave his corporate job and become a full-time boxer. Since no one at his father’s L.A. gym would train him, Adonis hopped a plane to Philadelphia in search of Rocky Balboa.
Rocky is stunned to learn that Apollo had a son. He declines, Adonis’ request to train him; however, after some soul searching, Rocky agreed to train him. Adonis informs Rocky that he wants to make a name for himself and does not want people to know he is Apollo’s son. Rocky trains Adonis and he wins his first professional bout. His success is clouded when someone leaks that he is the son of Apollo Creed. Adonis is approached with an offer to fight the light heavyweight champion of the world, who is undefeated and needs to box one more match before going to jail for 7 years. As his training starts, Rocky learns he has cancer and is unwilling to receive chemotherapy, since it did not save his beloved Adrianne. Adonis and Rocky agree to help each of train for the upcoming epic battles in their lives.
In the early throws of the movie, I was put off. I didn’t like the way Adonis came into play. Apollo Creed was an icon in boxing. Why was it necessary to tarnish his memory with infidelity? I was expecting his wife to learn she was pregnant after the funeral. Nevertheless, I got past that. Creed was not a testosterone filled gladiator flick. This movie showed the boxer and the man. Michael B. Jordan fit the bill as Adonis Creed. He seamlessly transitioned from gladiator to human being. He cried when he felt like it. He was gentle when it mattered. Sylvester Stallone’s performance was like no other that I have seen. He was still Rocky, just older and wiser. He was like a Mr. Magi with his training methods and anecdotes. I guess years without being punched improved his speech. Phylicia Rashad’s performance as Mary Ann Creed was classic Phylicia Rashad. Her role was overall minor and sporadic,; however, she delivered every second she was on the screen. Tessa Thompson portrayed Adonis’ love interest, Bianca. Their chemistry reinforced the movie’s mood. Tess and Michael complimented each other masterfully. The excellent screenplay and directing allowed you to overlook the violence of boxing and focus on the emotions of the characters.
I was a bit concerned about the music, when I saw Vince di Cola (Rocky IV) was not a part of it. The Movie soundtrack has 18 wonderful tracks. Three featuring Tessa Thompson. There are numerous hip-hop songs that kept with the tempo and mood of the movie. Tupac’s Hail Mary is perfectly blended into the movie.
Despite my frustration of the plot of Creed stereotyping African American Athletes, it managed to shoot down other stereotypes. Adonis Creed was a well-education man who had the desire to box. He was not a dumb jock. Mary Ann Creed did not take on the role of an angry black woman after discovering her husband’s infidelity. She chose to raise Adonis and give him the life Apollo wanted.
Creed was a wonderful movie and I highly recommend you watching it this holiday weekend. The soundtrack is available on Amazon.