Movie Review: “Creed” – A Good Clean Fight

Written by Matt Butler December 18, 2015

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I should preface this review with a confession, I haven’t seen Rocky. I feel the shaming already… While we’re at it, I also haven’t seen The Godfather, Terminator, Jaws, The Sound of Music, E.T., Schindler’s List, Batman Begins, Inception, The Two Towers, or Return of the King. To think I consider myself a film critic. But sometimes you don’t have to have seen the classic movies to recognize the classic tropes. I say this because Creed, taking off from the Rocky franchise, uses a lot of those familiar moments, but in a way that’s oddly refreshing.

Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Creed, son of the late boxing-champion Apollo Creed. Following in his father’s footsteps, Adonis seeks to cement himself in the boxing world, all while shaping his own identity. In need of a coach, he seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), the now-retired boxing world champion and long-time friend of Apollo. Rocky trains Adonis for an international fight that could as easily start Adonis’ reputation as it could end his life.

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One step. One punch. One round at a time!

Anyone who knows sports movies, even traditional protagonist stories knows what Creed is about. Every beat we’ve grown more or less familiar with – i.e. the determined yet inexperienced hero, the wise yet out-of-touch mentor, the love interest who’s lost but found again, the foreign rival, the big climactic fight, and of course, the training montage – is in this movie.

But the keyword with Creed is maturity. All the pieces are in play for what could have been a pointless, pandering ‘Next Karate Kid-esque’ mess, but it’s the mature way those pieces are played that shows the real game Creed is playing. Everything about it feels realistic and natural. There’s no exaggerated ‘underdog vs bully’ conflict, in fact, the conflict is very internal. The only person really pressuring Adonis to go into the ring is Adonis himself, and everyone else, including Rocky, is just there to support him. This internalized conflict helps to strengthen Adonis’ character and sets Creed apart from the baser, black and white competition narratives.

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[pointing toward Adonis’ reflection in the mirror] That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face.

However, because it leans so much into the real, there’s not much that’s thoroughly compelling about it. Everything feels as natural as it does predictable, there’s no twist of circumstances that really unsettles the characters. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just means I wasn’t on the edge of my seat.

Time takes everybody out; time’s undefeated.

In the end, Creed deserves immense respect for rising high above what it easily could have been. What it lacks in compulsion, it makes up for in maturity. If you’re looking for a mature, sensible personal drama, your money’s on Creed.

My Rating: 7/10

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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