“One step, one punch, one round at a time.”
Unflashy and undramatic, Ryan Coogler’s Balboa breakout refrains from the glitz and glamor, focussing on the human side of a violent world. Unfolding the story of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, Creed highlights the real semi-mundanity of the boxing world. It is a story of a man finding his self and life in the absence of a male role model. Adonis feels wronged, slighted, pained by the world, regardless of the material wealth he bathes in. It is of great acclaim that Coogler has managed to create a character so tender and heartfelt in a context that would have been very easy to seem simply angsty and arrogant.
This is a result of Coogler’s choice to understate several key themes. The training isn’t oversold, Donny’s troubled past isn’t exaggerated and the struggles he meets aren’t overpowering. Even seemingly overwhelming elements rightfully kept secondary to Adonis’ personal journey.
This lack of exaggeration creates a tangible reality. Donny’s success and its speed reflect Creed’s cinematic past, but this is no carbon-copy. Donny’s rise is suitably cynical and is tinged with suspicion and distrust. A legitimate tension is the result; one that will set your heart racing.
Creed is not innovative but it is a near-perfect incarnation of what this reboot should have been. Creed is not just a worthy successor to the Rocky masthead, not just the best boxing film of the decade but one of the greatest sports films of the modern era.
Header courtesy of Creed, image courtesy of utbgeek.