Rocky's story continues with an outstanding performance by Sylvester Stallone, which makes this the best since the original 1976 film.
Writer/director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) gives us not only a wonderful story about a young fighter, but an emotionally satisfying drama. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, Apollo Creed's son from an out-of-wedlock affair. It opens with a young Adonis in a group home sent to his room after one of many fights. The chip on his shoulder and his quick temper means a troubled future. But, Apollo's widow (Phylicia Rashad) visits him, tells him that Apollo was his father and takes him in to her home in order to give him a real chance in life.
Years later, Adonis gives notice at the financial office he works at so he can pursue a career in boxing. Although his stepmother is against it, he moves to Mexico to fight. After several wins, he travels to Philadelphia to find his father's old pal and opponent, Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa (Stallone).He wants Rocky to train him so he can compete in bigger fights in the states.
Rocky is retired from the boxing world and owns a restaurant named after his beloved wife, Adrian. When he enters the room, he moves slowly and looks to be in pain. His body has suffered abuse from years of boxing and every punch seems to be etched on his face. It's one of Stallone's best roles and he plays it to perfection.
After originally turning down Adonis' pleas to train him, he finally agrees because of his talent, but mostly because he believes he owes it to the memory of his friend. When the old training routines appear on screen, like the one-handed push-ups, running down Philly's neighborhood streets and trying to chase down a quick little chicken, the audience laughed out loud. The training might be old-school, but it still works.
Adonis has a nice way about him, he finds a girlfriend Tessa Thompson), calls Rocky "Unc" and when Rocky needs him, he cares for him like family. He's very believable as a talented, determined fighter.
This wouldn't be a Rocky sequel without a big, splashy Championship bout, and the climactic fight scene doesn't disappoint. When the world finds out that Adonis is really Apollo's kid, the British light-heavyweight Champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlon's (Tony Bellew) promoter sets up a bout with Adonis. Although I appreciate a well-crafted fight, I was knocked out by the genuine and emotion filled scenes.
One of the best is at the British arena. Rocky knows that Adonis is scared at his first big fight. The camera is behind the two following them as they walk in the tunnels leading to the ring. Rocky puts his big hand on Adonis' shoulder to give him confidence and whispers encouragement in his ear as they head into the huge arena. You can hear the shouting crowds in the background - its all very imposing, but Rocky shows just how much he cares for the young man with that one small gesture.
Creed has everything I wanted in a Rocky sequel; exciting fight scenes, great acting, an interesting story and most of all - its got plenty of heart.