The latest film franchise to find itself with a homage-remake-reboot is the Rocky series with the 2015 film ‘Creed’ which overall will hold its own in the pantheon of Rocky films although never challenging the champion first 2 films. However the film does afford Stallone the opportunity to bring a new depth to the character which may well see him earn a nomination for some supporting actor nods through the award seasons.
In the 7th film in the long running film franchise, we follow Adonis ‘Hollywood’ Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) as he attempts to forge a boxing career in Los Angeles, struggling to shake the fact that he is the illegitimate son of all time great Apollo Creed (who died before he was born).
In order to fully commit to his desired fighting career, Johnson quits his job, and moves to Philadelphia in search of a trainer. Initially failing to get any real attention at Mickey’s gym, he seeks out one Mr Rocky Balboa and over time Balboa initially begrudgingly begins to train Johnson finding a new lease of life in himself through the young fighter.
Meanwhile, cutting to Liverpool, the current Light Heavyweight champion Ricky Conlon (played by actually boxed Anthony ‘Bomber’ Bellew), is preparing for his last fight before beginning a seven year oil sentence for gun charges, that will effectively end his professional boxing career.
In the press conference for the fight, Conlon lashes out at his opponent breaking his jaw and ending the chances of the fight taking place and lining himself up for some pretty serious legal damage claims.
As the news of the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, now training with Balboa emerges, Conlon takes the chance to line up one big fight before he begins his sentence.
Interestingly it’s the first Rocky script that Stallone hasn’t directly written having been created by the film’s director Ryan Coogler (from 2013’s Fruitvale Station). However its got all of the hallmarks of a Stallone script and shows little desire to try and break away from the previous films of the series, rather to simply add a chapter to the legacy of the overall story.
Stallone apparently refused the idea of another Balboa film initially however the persistence of Coogler, presumably combined with the opportunity to take the character of Balboa out of the ring, and into the mentor role, in effect becoming his version of Burgess Meredith’s ‘Mickey’ to Johnson, that ultimately won him over.
Jordan comes out swinging in the role, confidently stepping up to the task at hand and holding his own in both his scenes with Stallone and more broadly the weight of the franchise at times on his shoulders.
In the recent vain of Jurassic World, Spectre, Terminator Genysis, and The Force Awakens, what we’re dealing with here is a new film in a series, that works hard to pay homage to its predecessors and attempts to navigate carefully between a reboot, a remake and a sequel.
It doesn’t carry any surprise punches but much like Rocky Balboa did in 2006, it takes us back to visit a character that a lot of us hold dear to our hearts still, and it’s a visit that has the majority of the nostalgia mixed within a new story that you would probably hope for.