Sunday, April 1, 2018

Creed

Creed; sports drama, USA, 2015; D: Ryan Coogler, S: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad

Los Angeles. Adonis Johnson is the illegitimate child of the deceased boxing champion, Apollo Creed. Adonis travels to Philadelphia and persuades Rocky Balboa to train him to be a boxer. Adonis also falls in love with a singer, Bianca. During his first match, he scores a win, much to Rocky's satisfaction. However, Rocky is diagnosed with a form of cancer, but refuses to undergo chemotherapy. Adonis manages to change his mind and persuade him to undergo the therapy. During a boxing match, Adonis holds up for several rounds. The judges award his opponent, Conlan, the title, but Rocky is still proud of Adonis and wows to train him further.

It is ironic that in 1'990, when the Rocky franchise was nearing its end with "Rocky V", a new beginning was unexpectedly rising somewhere else in the mind of the then 4-year old Ryan Coogler, who would 25 years later renew the film series with an informal 7th part, "Creed", that unexpectedly received wide critical recognition and achieved a rare treat: Slyvester Stallone was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor, the first time in history that an actor was nominated for that award for playing the same character after a time pause of 39 years. Truth be told, "Creed" is a little bit overrated and not quite worthy of the hype: the training sequences are routine; several examples of "over-editing" in the opening act are superfluous; Adonis' love story with Bianca is pale whereas the boxing sequences have no passion, emotion or ingenuity, except in the exciting finale that ends on a surprisingly sober tone. Some fans have even complained that "Rocky Balboa" was the right ending of the franchise. Still, the story in "Creed" works thanks to the friendship and loyalty of these two characters, Rocky and Adonis, who have enough charm and comraderie to carry the film. It is not quite extraordinary, just variation of the previous films about one character mentoring the other to prepare for the match, yet some quotes of wisdom or pathos help to elevate the mood. One of them is when Adonis finally meets Rocky and asks him how he managed to beat Apollo, upon which Rocky replies: "Time beat him. Time, you know, takes everybody out. It's undefeated." The final match is also exciting, because Rocky is puzzled as to why the severely wounded Adonis insists on continuing the fight: "I have to prove it!" - "Prove what?" - "That I'm not a mistake!" It was somewhat predictable that the screenwriters would resolve to the "terminal-illness" sympathy card, when Rocky is diagnosed with cancer, yet his character is above that cliche due to some hiden wisdom in him: one of the most remarkable ones is his philosophy that Creed is not competing against the others, but only against himself, which transforms him in a state beyond victory or loss as he is just proving how far he can go, sumed up in one great line near the finale: "Hey, hey, it's *you* against *you*. He's just in your way. Get him out of the way!"

Grade:++

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