Creed ★★★★½

Right from the opening frame, Director Ryan Coogler aims to knock you the fuck out, and boy, does he do it. He passionately revels in the framework of the original ROCKY, but manages to spruce it up with modern filmmaking bravado and energy. Michael B. Jordan once again showcase his immense talent with a raw, emotionally resonant performance as Apollo Creed's son, Adonis. He is headstrong and slightly arrogant, but you can see that he has the drive to go places. He needs a little help though, and that is where Sylvester Stallone's Rocky enters the picture. This just might be the best Stallone has ever been. The deep sadness behind his eyes is conveyed so subtly, that it breaks your heart whenever he is on screen. He is alone in the world and is looking for someone to give his life a renewed purpose. The relationship that develops between Adonis and Rocky is executed with the sensitivity it deserves without resorting to cheap manipulation. Adonis has his own struggle to make it to the top and make a name for himself, while Rocky has to fight a battle with cancer. They both learn from each other in the process as they help guide one another to become better people. Even with such detailed character work, CREED has to deliver on the boxing too. And shit, does it delivers on that with aplomb. It's sufficiently brutal, fast, and utterly gripping. A long take fight scene being the highlight for its immediacy and elegant fluidity. The finale opts for a more conventional approach, but it's just as rousing for the way it pays off everything that was built previously. The ending the film chooses to leave you with was the right call as well. It's not a flashy moment, but one that recognizes that if you want something in life, you must fight for it with everything you have. It's not about winning or losing, it's about knowing you did everything in your power to never give up.

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