Rocky is Back as a Trainer
By Skip Sheffield
Yo Rocky! Good to have you back in Philly and movie theaters everywhere.
“Creed” is a continuation of the rags-to-riches Rocky Balboa boxing fable, but this seventh in a series begun in 1976 is the first one not written by Sylvester Stallone and not having him boxing in the ring.
This is a good thing, because Stallone is now 69 years old, and it would a bit of a stretch seeing him still fighting as a professional boxer. Instead he is a coach, not unlike Burgess Meredith in the first “Rocky” picture. His protégé is Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of the late Rocky nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed.
Director and writer Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”) has brought the Rocky Balboa saga into a new generation. Michael Jordan, who was in “Fruitvale Station,” is one good-looking actor, and he does some convincing boxing moves, made all the more effective by the amazing makeup that makes him appear beat-up after battling brutish British boxer “Pretty Ricky” Conlan (Tony Bellew).
Rocky Balboa has retired from the ring in order to run Adrian’s restaurant, named after his beloved late wife. Rocky is easy enough to find, but it takes some convincing by Adonis to get him back in the game as a trainer.
Adonis has a love interest of his own in the form of nightclub singer Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who happens to be coping with a hearing loss.
I am no fan of boxing. To me it’s like watching a car wreck unfold before my eyes. I do like underdog stories though, and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky is a classic American underdog story. So “Creed” delivers the goods, though there is nothing new here. It could have been called “Rocky VII,” but that would not be accurate. This movie shows Stallone accepting the inevitable. No matter what great shape he is in, he is a senior citizen, and Stallone plays him with pride and dignity.