Synopsis: Adonis has been thriving in both his career and family life, but when a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy resurfaces, the face-off is more than just a fight.
Director: Michael B. Jordan
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad
As well as being a very successful actor in front of the camera, Michael B. Jordan has made the move behind the camera to direct. Creed is a spinoff from the Rocky series of films and follows Apollo Creed’s son Adonis (Jordan) as he navigates life.
The original Creed saw Jordan re-team with his Black Panther/Fruitvale Station director, Ryan Coogler. Coogler serves as one of the producers of this film, and his inspiration can definitely be felt in the closing credits. Those who saw Black Panther will notice some familiarity.
In the film, everything is going great for Adonis. He has retired from boxing and is a mentor at the gym. Life with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) is pleasant. They have a daughter Amara (Mila-Davis Kent), who is deaf, and Jordan and Thompson sign with her throughout her scenes. It’s great to see that films like CODA have opened up more opportunities for deaf actors.
Adonis has shifted into the world of promoting and is looking after Felix Chavez (real-life boxer Jose Benevidez), who seems to have a promising future.
A blast from the past arrives in the form of Damian Anderson. This is a childhood friend of Adonis who has spent a significant amount of time in prison. The reason for this is presented with flashbacks throughout the film. Damian was a great boxer but was unable to reach his full potential due to his incarceration.
Adonis feels bad that his old friend went to prison and is guilted into assisting him in pursuing a boxing career even though he’s considered old. (He’s over 30 in sports, which makes sense by societal standards).
Damian is a dirty fighter; he has spent a lot of time in prison and takes a lot of shortcuts. In the beginning, Damian seems like someone who just wants an opportunity, but it isn’t long before his true intentions are revealed.
The trailer for this film gives about 60 percent of the movie away, but there are still some very compelling parts. I am always critical of actors who direct. It is hit or miss. In the Rocky series, Sylvester Stallone directed numerous installments, which were very good films. Jordan does a good job here in his directorial debut. Overall the film is well done. Taking nothing away from Jordan, the formula for Rocky/Creed films had been established years ago. He hasn’t reinvented anything here but has built upon this legacy. The film will serve well not only in the canon of Rocky films but boxing films as well.
Put Michael B. Jordan on this list of those who can act and direct the same project.
Jonathan Majors! We need to discuss Jonathan Majors. 2023 is his year with three projects on deck. Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, this film, and the forthcoming Magazine Dreams are all strong performances, and the fact they are all being released in a calendar year is a testament to his choices as an actor. With Damian, he has created a character that is easily one of the top villains in this series.
It takes time for the story to unfold and for the characters to develop. The flashback scenes, specifically from the point of view of trying to tell the story of Adonis and Damian, aren’t as effective as they could have been. You get the gist of it, but as far as ‘flashback scene effectiveness, ’ it was a bit of a letdown.
Michael B. Jordan does a great job utilizing his resources. Instead of trying to do everything alone or soak up all the screen time, he passes the ball around extremely well. Thompson is a strong actor; she always makes the most of the canvas, whether given a little or a lot of screen time. Phylicia Rashad and Wood Harris represent fine wine as they still perform well. The boxing scenes were choreographed very well. The film also does a great job of incorporating familiar boxing and sports personalities.
There are two strong takeaways from this film; Michael B. Jordan should continue directing if that’s his passion, as his years as an actor have taught him how to be successful at it, and that’s not something all actors can accomplish. The name is Jonathan Majors. Write it down and remember it. The best job in Hollywood could be that of his agent, as the phone must constantly be ringing.
The movie isn’t without its flaws, but they are more like blemishes as they don’t take away from the overall experience.