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Film review: Creed – Sylvester Stallone steps back in triumphant seventh Rocky movie

Rocky Balboa trains son of his old opponent Apollo Creed in this visceral, realistic boxing story

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 1:31pm

The seventh instalment of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series is a very straightforward affair. But it does bring the story bang up to date in a credible way. While it makes the bold move of turning Rocky into a supporting character, this solid slice of mainstream entertainment will please fans of the long-running boxing series.

Creed’s focus is on young boxer Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Rocky’s one-time opponent and friend, champion boxer Apollo Creed. When Adonis, who’s been brought up by his wealthy stepmother, decides to follow his deceased father into the ring, he turns to Rocky for advice and training. As old age begins to take its toll, Rocky finds he needs an equal amount of emotional support from Adonis.

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As with the earlier films, the fight sequences rely on raw physical power rather than camera trickery. It’s a visceral experience, and the matches are staged to look brutally realistic. A final bout between Creed and his nemesis Conlan (played by real-life boxer Tony “Bomber” Bellew) reminds of a classic Rocky fight, and Adonis’ challenges start to mirror those of the younger Rocky.

Ryan Coogler, who has taken over Stallone’s directing duties, spends time fleshing out Adonis’ relationship with Rocky, and does it well. Adonis’ romance with Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a singer who has hearing problems, is delicately handled, too. Although it’s mainly Adonis’s story, Stallone and Rocky still tower over the proceedings. Things only really ignite when the Italian Stallion himself is on the screen.

Creed opens on February 25