First Hit: This 133 minute film flew by because it was engaging and well done.
I enjoyed the first 4 Rocky films. I didn’t see the 5th because they were deteriorating as the series went on. Of course, like many others, I thought the first Rocky film was wonderful and a great story.
This film feeds off of Rocky IV where Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) is killed by a Russian fighter. One of Apollo’s out of wedlock children, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), never met his father before he died and now carries resentment towards the Creed name and his roots.
He grows up going from foster home to foster home and getting into fights over everything and anything. He likes fighting. Apollo’s wife finds him in juvy and takes Adonis in to raise him, puts him through school and helps him get a great job. But even with a great job, he loves fighting and quits everything to become a professional boxer.
He goes to live in Philadelphia looking for Rock Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to ask him to become his trainer. When we meet Rocky, he’s a little tired, isn’t engaged with boxing any longer, and runs Adrien’s, his deceased wife’s namesake restaurant. When he discovers that Adonis is Apollo’s son he begrudgingly helps him.
This film is about both Adonis and Rocky growing through their relationship to become better people - together. The boxing scenes are well done, not as violent as the scenes in “Southpaw” or a couple of the earlier “Rocky” films, but they are effective.
This script has Rocky talking to Paulie and Adrian's headstones was vintage Rocky and very touching. Having Adonis meet Bianca (Tessa Thompson) was a throwback to Rocky and Adrian’s budding and then lasting relationship.
Jordan was very good in this part and his ability to be touchy and touching are a wonderful strong point. Stallone was magnificent. I wouldn’t doubt he will receive award nominations for this performance. Subtle, true to the character, and very engaging. Thompson was a great conduit for and in this film. She rounded out the testosterone nature of this film. Phylicia Rashad was perfect as Apollo’s widowed wife and Adonis’s stepmom. Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington wrote a wonderfully insightful script that brought together wonderful historical aspects of the old Rocky films. Coogler did a great job of putting the script and actors together to make this film really work.
Overall: This was a thoroughly enjoyable film.