After reading rave reviews from American tabloids, I was quite surprised with how ordinary Creed turned out to be. It's a solid though unremarkable sequel/reboot in the ever lasting Rocky franchise.
The story makes sense. Gone is the pretense that Stallone can box his way into old age. He's now a supporting character and happy to pass his underdog status to Adonis Johnson, son of Rocky's rival Apollo Creed. A lot of fun comes from the generation-gap humour between the two leads. Their winning chemistry is vital in keeping our interest during the fights and obligatory montages. Sylvester Stallone adds pathos to his wounded fighter which gives the story weight and a reason to care after all these years. There's also the measured direction from Ryan Coogler that on one occasion transcends into muscular territory when we get to Adonis's first fight. Shot in a single take we bob and weave through two rounds of perfectly choreographed fighting. It's breathlessly exciting and the only time the film breaks free from the conservative.
With exception to that first fight, I was disappointed with Creed's lack of surprises. The central love story is sweet, but cliched and familiar plot beats fall into place exactly when you expect them to. Creed's final fight also disappoints with Hollywood dramatisation rules moving in without welcome.
Maybe I wanted a little more punch to the story, but Creed is still a good crowd-pleasing return for Rocky Balboa.