Once again, Sylvester Stallone finds himself returning to the ring in the legendary roll of cinema's greatest underdog, Rocky Balboa. But this time around, he stays in the corner and never laces up the old gloves, I promise. Instead Rocky's assistance is needed when a new breed of boxing icon Apollo Creed shows up in his restaurant in Ryan Coogler's sophomore feature, Creed.
Michael B. Jordan stands front and center as Adonis Johnson, a child born from a mistress of Apollo who never met his father. And after his mother passes away unexpectedly, Adonis is bounced around the foster care system regularly punished for doing the only thing he knows how to, fighting. He's finally taken in by Apollo's longtime wife and raised with an opportunity to avoid the ring. Yet, his natural instincts can't be ignored as he seeks the guidance of Rocky Balboa to help mold him into a professional fighter.
There are a few spectacular moments peppered throughout Coogler's pet project. We're given an impressive and emotional performance by Stallone and it's a welcome return for the former champ. However, Creed swings and whiffs at its ineffective romance subplot and feels too preachy to land an impactful blow. Ironically, we're force-fed Adonis' repetitive and hollow desires to form his own legacy, all while the film relies on cheaply imitated pieces of the Rocky franchise's past.