Rating4.0 / 5
Steven Caple Jnr
Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone
November 29 2018
Creed II is a nimble and punchy sequel that overcomes its cliched beats to land some solid hits to the heart.
Creed II is a film of contradiction. At its core, it’s a story about stepping out of the shadows of what has come before to forge your own legacy and blaze your own trail. And yet, this sequel finds itself linking back to the original Rocky series (notably Rocky IV) more than ever before. Thankfully, it’s the former aspect that prevails, with director Steven Caple Jr. building on the groundwork laid by Ryan Coogler and continuing to shape a compelling narrative around a clutch of well-written, three-dimensional characters. In fact, it’s this groundwork and the ties to the legacy of the Rocky series that deepen the narrative and the film as a whole.
Having won the hearts of millions with a gutsy loss at the end of his first film, this sequel finds Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) finally climbing the boxing ladder through a series of powerful wins. After claiming the heavyweight title and with the world at his feet, Adonis still feels unfulfilled. That is until a new challenger emerges in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who famously killed Adonis’ father Apollo in the ring back in Rocky IV. Challenge accepted, thinks Adonis – until the significance of who he is about to face truly sinks in.
It may not have the same unquantifiable energy and power as Coogler’s astounding revival from 2015, but Creed II does have a lot to like. Jordan continues to impress as Adonis, both in a physical and emotional sense. The film hones in on Adonis’ relationship with fiancee Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and it’s here that the film’s themes of family, responsibility, duty and legacy shine brightest. Screenwriters Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone wisely place Rocky (played by Stallone) in the background for most of the film, pivoting to this core duo of Jordan and Thompson, as well as the Dragos.
So while it hits the usual beats you’d expect from a boxing movie, Creed II succeeds in making us care about how we get there. Having spent two films with these characters (a staggering eight for Rocky), I was invested in Adonis and Bianca, in their fight both in the ring and out of it. In continuing their story, Creed II and director Caple Jr. prove there is still fight left in this franchise. Bring on round three.
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films