Review - 'Creed II'
The first Creed was one of the biggest surprises in recent memory, Creed II is not, but it’s still a serviceable entry in the storied Rocky/Creed franchise, even if its plot is one of the most predictable stories this year.
In Creed II, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been crowned the heavyweight champion of the world, but it’s not enough for him. Enter Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the infamous fighter, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) who was made notorious for killing Adonis Creed’s father, Apollo Creed. Viktor, who has been racking up wins and seems unstoppable, issues a public taunt to Adonis to jump in the ring with him. Adonis accepts, leading to a whirlwind of events where Adonis must rediscover the man he wants to be.
My main issue with Creed II is that there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about it. I was carried through the competently directed act 1, act 2 and act 3, the film hit all of the peaks and valleys that Rocky/Creed movies are meant to hit and I came out on the other end more-or-less satisfied with where the pieces inevitably fell. That said, I was never moved by any of it, and if there’s one quality that these films need to have; it’s to be moving and inspirational. The final act of the film attempts to be rousing, and hits all of the beats it’s supposed to hit, but it still rung hollow to me, and maybe that’s because I’ve seen all of this before a million times.
Despite the unoriginal framework of the film, Director Steven Caple Jr. does a fine job of keeping things moving along and shows a great eye for how to present these fighters as the formidable forces that they are. Every scene where we get to witness Michael B. Jordan’s incredible physicality added a nice visceral thrill to the proceedings. While I wouldn’t say that the fights in Creed 2 are nearly as electric as they were in the previous film, they are still well-staged and feel genuine.
While the performance seems slightly more phoned in here than in the previous film, Michael B. Jordan is still highly committed as Adonis Creed. He carries the movie all the way to the end, even if his motivations this time around feel less compelling. Tessa Thompson remains a strong support as Bianca, though again, this is a performance where she doesn’t quite have as much to work with as she did in the previous film. Sylvester Stallone returns as Rocky, and his closing of the book on the character probably held the most emotional weight for me. I could feel that this was his final turn as the character and Rocky is retired with grace and respect. Finally, Dolph Lundgren returns as Ivan Drago, and he appears to retain the same stone-cold demeanor as his original portrayal of the character, but the layers are peeled back by the end of the film and we do get more of a glimpse behind the curtain. While I didn’t feel like Drago met a satisfying resolution, it was nice to have an extra dimension to a character I wrote off to be about as simple as they come.
Creed 2 is a competent Rocky/Creed film. The drama is well-executed, the fights are engaging enough and the montages are passable, but it’s missing the flavor and the passion that embody the best films in this long-running franchise. On the surface, Creed 2 will check all of the boxes, but don’t bother looking any deeper because there’s not much else to be found.