Synopsis: A young boxer strives to make it as a pro with the help of Rocky Balboa.
The latest in the Rocky franchise, Creed, is a winner. Rocky revs up again as the trainer of a promising young boxer, Adonis, the son of former competitor, Apollo Creed. Adonis grew up rough in LA, never knowing his father; his birth the result of and extra-marital fling to a mother who rejected him. Adonis lands in juvie but gets a chance at a good life when he is taken in by a kindly woman played by Phylicia Rashad. His new mom gives him opportunities over the years and approves when he lands a good desk job. But Adonis wants to box. He has an Aha Moment when he learns that his dad was Apollo Creed. New mom makes a case for sanity when she insists that getting your brains bashed in for a living is a poor life choice. But, no, he quits his job and goes to Philly to where he can find Rocky Balboa, a father figure/trainer who will encourage him to pursue his dream of delivering and receiving daily pummelings to the head and torso.
When Adonis first approaches Rocky outside of his Philly restaurant and asks him to train him, Rocky refuses. He’s busy with his place and besides, he likes to spend his free time at the cemetery where he has one-sided conversations at his late wife’s grave.
Rocky is also busy keeping things real, living a semi-ramshackle house in an ungentrified part of the city, wearing ordinary palooka clothes and shunning 21st century conveniences like cellphones. Of course things have changed much more for Sylvester Stallone since Rocky came out in 1976 than they have for Rocky. Sly appears onscreen with an LA tan, thick limousine black hair and skin that looks suspiciously tampered with by Hollywood’s youth and beauty specialists. But just go with it, because clearly Sly likes playing Rocky and we like it too.
So, back to Adonis Creed… he is charismatically brought to life by Michael B. Jordan who shows us a young man in full, surprised by the force of his own hurt and anger. Adonis meets Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a singer song-writer with whom he starts a relationship. She seems like an intelligent woman, so I was hoping that she might point out at least one chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) article to him that goes into the brain scrambling risks of his chosen profession.
Back to Rocky… he can’t resist the lure of the boxing ring so he goes to check out the fancy gym where Adonis works out. He likes what he sees and agrees to train the kid, Rocky-style. His training style is unorthodox and includes making Adonis chase chickens around in his dismal backyard — yes, you read that correctly chase chickens. Rocky also makes him run behind his beat up old van through the grittier parts of the City. Sometimes they talk about Apollo Creed too.
A Rocky movie wouldn’t be Rocky without a big fight and one is a real, ahem, knockout. Adonis Creed fights a trash-talking Brit, Pretty Ricky who is continually described as being “pound for pound, the best fighter in the world.” I won’t tell you the outcome, but I will tell you that every thirty seconds during the bout, one or the other spews out lots of Hawaiian Punch after taking a slo-mo punch to the face.
But it’s not all about boxing. There are life lessons to be learned as well… For Rocky: You are never too old to teach someone how to give a punch to the head. For Adonis: Follow your dream of punching someone in the head.