Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan; Fruitvale Station) is a troubled kid, having bounced around foster homes and, eventually, landing in Juvenile detention. When his deceased father's wife, Mary Ann "Ma" (Phylicia Rashad;The Cosby Show) takes him in, his whole life changes. He suddenly goes from being poor, homeless and parent-less, to living in a mansion with a woman who cares and makes sure he becomes educated and well mannered.
An adult now, Adonis can't quite move past the nagging feeling he was meant for more. He quits his job and moves to Philadelphia in hopes to become a professional boxer with the help of his father's rival and friend, World Champion boxer Rocky Balboa (Stallone; Rocky). Initially reluctant, Rocky takes on Adonis and, after winning one high profile fight, they find themselves up against the reigning World Champion, who exploits the last name Adonis has no desire to use, that of his of father, Apollo Creed.
Lets face it, had this movie been made without Stallone, it would have been a completely different film, and not nearly as good. Rocky had to be included in the next chapter of this saga or it would have been a cheap knock off of an iconic franchise. Stallone's performance is inspiring and reminiscent of Rocky's glory days, with a tinge of old Mickey thrown in for good measure.
Jordan does an admirable job as the tormented, former delinquent who can't quite let go of his familial instinct to be a champion. Casting Rashad was an excellent decision, as she embodies the spirit of "tough love" required in this role. Relative newcomer Tessa Thompson (Selma) as Adonis' love interest, Bianca, shows a great deal of potential as a musician, and is fair as an actress.
Paying homage to the original Rocky. while updating it for the times, is a fine line to balance and the production team does a good job. The soundtrack samples the iconic Rocky theme and is terrific until the climatic point in Adonis' training when a choir begins singing the words "gonna fly now". It cheapened the music and made an otherwise simple movie moment cheesy.
Thankfully, the writers and Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) chose to end the film somewhat realistically with Creed losing the fight, but gaining credibility, instead of having him upset, and knock down, the World Champion.
While Creed probably won't win any awards, and won't be remembered as much as Rocky, it is entertaining. Anyone who is a boxing fan or a Rocky Fan will enjoy this latest movie and will find Stallone's performance of Balboa a walk down memory lane well worth traveling.