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Review: ‘Rocky’ revitalized in heartfelt ‘Creed’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

Sylvester Stallone? Seriously?

Absolutely. Reprising the role that made him famous, Stallone turns in an award-worthy performance in the “Rocky” reboot “Creed.” He doesn’t overplay things; he’s downright humble and, let’s face it, kind of adorable.

Not that he’s the center of the movie. That would be the estimable Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s first opponent and ultimate friend. After Apollo dies, Adonis ends up in the state’s care, where he’s known for causing fights. Eventually, he’s rescued by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) and brought up in comfort.

But comfort doesn’t suit Adonis. He’s working his way up the ladder in the business world by day, but at night he drives into Mexico to box in lowdown arenas where he’s never beaten. Eventually, he decides he wants to box full time. Who better to train and teach him than his father’s friend and conqueror Rocky Balboa (Stallone)?

So he moves to Philadelphia and finds the aged Rocky running a restaurant, completely retired from anything to do with boxing and uninterested in helping some kid train, even if he is the son of Apollo Creed.

From there the story goes exactly as you’d expect: Rocky eventually comes around, the kid turns out to have talent, he train-trains-trains, wins an upset victory and then suddenly — because of his bloodline — is given a shot at the title, going up against the undefeated hothead “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew).

Along the way, Adonis picks up a partially deaf girlfriend (Tessa Thompson) and struggles with daddy issues. But for the most part, “Creed” mirrors the first “Rocky,” which is hardly a bad thing. Writer-director Ryan Coogler, who worked with Jordan on “Fruitvale Station,” is direct and honest in his approach, keeping the corn in check. And he’s got a secret weapon who brings tons of heart.

Stallone? Absolutely.

tlong@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/toomuchTomLong

‘Creed’

GRADE: B

Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality

Running time:

132 minutes