zuhair vazir’s review published on Letterboxd:
Rocky: "I see three of him"
Duke: "Fight the one in the middle." - Rocky IV, 1985
"Creed" is dripping with nostalgia, its visible veins are pumping with memories of heavy-duty adrenaline rush, breaking the opponent, the power-dap that rattles our hero like how it broke the resolve of Creed Sr. when Drago's fists did not move an inch as Weathers' gloved-fists made contact with the Russian's, thirty years ago. The jabs make the same "swish, swish" sound as they pierce the air in half. Johnson runs, falls and gets up and falls again to rise again like Balboa did during the fight with the Russian with long arms; like a trapped and threatened and beaten feline trying to get out of a situation; in retrospect, the entire picture is a situation from the brawl at the juvenile facility to the last punch that makes contact with "Team 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan". Ramboman gives a performance only second to his Freddy Heflin from "Copland, 1997". Ryan Coogler puts a irreconcilable adversary for Ramboman to take on in this Rocky film. He changes enemy territory from The Soviet Union to Liverpool. The fights are quick and ferocious; two body punches and a right hook take out Jordan's eye just like what Drago did to Balboa, who held his ground. "Baby Creed" (don't call him that) can't hold ground but springs up as Dillon from "Predator, 1987" flashes through his brain. The love interest with "Beethoven Syndrome" is not too distracting either; on the contrary it fills in for the 'Adrian intrigue' that can be felt in all of the Rocky films. The outstanding soundtrack and sound-editing send the viewer in a very violent but a strangely comfortable place. The jaw shatters, the eye is busted, "Pretty Conlan's" fists makes contact with Johnson's six-pack and it can all be heard crystal clear. Rocky trained in a meat-cooler, Johnson trains in a hospital room. The horns by Ludwig Göransson build up to its crescendo a little late after the film has played for us some of the prettiest songs ever; but when the trumpets do go off the hair stands on the end and Creed comes back to life in the eyes of the tiger, I mean Johnson. Stallone gives a top notch performance and so does Jordon - who says: "I'm fighting Conlan", and then shouts it out, and isn't convinced both times- but the Oscars are being a bitch.
All said and done and with blood in the ring, "the bell can't save you in the twelfth round", Creed wins in reminding us of all the previous "Rocky" films in fond reminiscence, it wins in its brutal boxing scenes, 'building a high-tolerance' training sequences, the crowd cheering for the shirty baddie with gun possession charges and zero future. It wins in its presentation of an age old fable that has become alternative history, high potency pop-culture, part of the National Film Preservation Board Archive and what have you.
"Creed" is a marvelous picture that can be enjoyed even if you don't know "Rocky" from "The Expendables".
"Chickens' gettin' slow."
A must watch.
Ps. 5 years and I get it right, courtesy Arun Chivo :) Middle not Mirror.