Creed II is the sequel to 2015’s Creed, the well-received reboot of the Rocky franchise. The film follows Adonis Creed as he faces off against the son of Ivan Drago, who killed Creed’s father in the ring decades before. Although the movie is mostly entertaining, it pales in comparison to the masterpiece that was Creed.
Part of what made Creed such a hit was the large amount of nostalgia that fueled it. Finally, we would get to see a proper Rocky film, this time with Sylvester Stallone in the mentor chair. It was an ingenious concept that landed with audiences quite well. The sequel attempts to capitalize on that nostalgia again by reintroducing the character of Ivan Drago. The problem: there isn’t nearly as much goodwill for Rocky IV as there is for the original.
At this point, it also feels like we are getting too much of the same thing. Yes, the first Creed was essentially a rehash of the first Rocky; however, there was a significant amount of social commentary infused into the movie that made it stand out. Those touches, which can almost certainly be attributed to Ryan Coogler, are missing, and that makes a significant impact.
Because the film so closely sticks to the formula without any added flair, it isn’t nearly as exciting as it should be. Sure, you can still get absorbed into the fight sequences, but you aren’t gasping with every hit or cheering with every knock down. This is especially problematic during the triumphant moments, in which the classic music kicks in as the fight turns in the favor of our protagonist. These simply aren’t as impactful as they should be.
Furthermore, there are quite a few added subplots that are ineffective. This script obviously has a significant theme of family running through it. This appears in three forms: Adonis avenging his father’s death, Viktor Drago’s relationship with his mother (and Creed’s relationship with his as a counterpoint), and Rocky’s relationship with his son (compared with Drago’s relationship with his father). Only the first feels truly developed — the other two are underwhelming and ultimately feel insignificant.
That being said, the movie is certainly well-made. The cinematography and editing, especially during the boxing scenes, is very well-done. This is pretty much the only thing that gives the film its intensity. There is also a very good (but obligatory) training montage that is perhaps the best scene in the movie.
Additionally, the actors all do very well in their roles. Michael B. Jordan obviously has passion for the character, and it shows. He does a great job of showing the diverse emotions for which the role calls. Tessa Thompson complements him extremely well. She is as great as ever in the role, with some strong scenes on her own, but also having great chemistry with Jordan. Of course, Sylvester Stallone was born to play Rocky Balboa, and he is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. That being said, he doesn’t quite match the Oscar-worthy performance he delivered in the first entry.
Overall, Creed II wasn’t bad, but it was disappointing given that its predecessor was so strong. It is likely a result of having a different filmmaker at the helm that the result was different.
Creed II is now playing in theaters everywhere.