Tim Burnham’s review published on Letterboxd:
A Greek myth. Since The Fighter came out in 2011 and basically nailed the conventional boxing movie narrative, I've felt like any boxing movie thereafter is pretty much redundant. Unless it has some sort of unique spin or core to it, the best a boxing film can do is rival the greats.
I started this film not particularly invested but along for the ride out of respect for Coogler and Jordan, and out of weary respect for Stallone after the heart and soul he brought to at least the first Rocky in its writing (I haven't seen the rest). As it got underway I saw the old familiar path and the cliched steps we were taking, albeit filmed a lot nicer than usual.
Then in the back half, the film came alive and I saw what it was. Creed is about a boy fighting for his place in the world. Fighting to understand who he is and what the word legacy means. His relationship with Rocky (again, I started the film brushing off Stallone's recognition for the film as the all too familiar let's-give-life-time-achievement-because-you've-come-home sort of deal) is stunning and searing and real. Stallone is heart-wrenching to watch too.
Then we get to the final, brutal fight and it may be the most emotional and high stake boxing match I've seen in a film. Because we know what Adonis is fighting for and why this matters so much to him, and Jordan did the work to bring us along with him on the journey.
Then, after the fight ends and it truly is something to behold. It feels like the final act of a Greek myth, and Adonis crosses over from the world of man to the hall of Gods alongside his father....which is further punctuated by the spectacular final moments of Adonis and Rocky climbing the stairs to the Museum of Art (which looks like Olympus).
Wow. I don't know if the inevitable sequel can match the sheer emotionality and raw humanity here, nor do I think it can come up with something better than this films themes of fathers and sons, but I find myself surprisingly looking forward to that eventuality.