Ryan Coogler‘s Creed, which I paid to see last night at the AMC Century 15, is the second high-quality, popular-with-the-proletariat formula flick to have elbowed its way into the award-season conversation this year (following Ridley Scott‘s The Martian). We’re definitely talking Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor…but will he campaign? (He’s delivered three commendable performances now — young Rocky Balboa in Rocky, 60ish Rocky in Creed and John Rambo in Ted Kotcheff‘s First Blood.) Creed is not so much a Best Picture or Best Director contender because it mainly follows the expected ambitious-young-boxer saga while tributing the first Rocky film. It’s not breaking any new ground, but it’s the first really good Rocky film in 39 years.
But it’s very well done within genre perimeters, and well written as far as it goes, definitely well acted and even excitingly directed at times. Coogler has made his sophomore bones with this film, and is basically set for life (if he wants to milk it) as the black Sydney Pollack. And Creed has a spiritual sports current you can really dig into and ride upon — a serious feeling of esprit de corps among sports-loving Philadelphians and particularly the scooter and moped-riding locals who live in the nabe where Michael B. Jordan‘s Adonis Creed lives and trains. This is the kind of solid, pulse-quickening sport-formula film that Joe Popcorn lives for. And it’s definitely a hit. People in the theatre applauded when Stallone came on screen, and they applauded when Ludwig Goransson‘s music cued up the traditional Rocky theme. They were into it and happy when it was over, and so was I as far as it went.