Creed has to be one of the most pleasant surprises in recent movie history. A reboot of sort that honoured the Rocky legacy while carving out its own. Its success then unsurprisingly led to a sequel and while Creed II is a disappointment in some sense, its disappointment is more the fault of a successful previous film. It is good for sure but unsurprising.
Creed II finds Adonis finally capturing the heavy weight belt and left with the existential crisis of what next. When a figure from both Adonis and Rocky’s past emerge, they must face Ivan Drago and his son, a father -son team intent on extinguishing their legacy. Meanwhile the prospect of a family for Adonis means he must decide if any of this is worthwhile.
Creed II finds itself following a well-worn path that every Rocky film and I guess Creed film covers. Facing and triumphing over adversity usually interspersed with training montages and pump-up music tracks. It is a testament to the film but also probably Sly Stallone that this has never felt stale. It still pulls on the heart strings.
It helps that much of the human emotion associated with the film is universal, about creating family whether biological or created. But also that idea of how much of our battle in life is against ourselves. Wonderfully earnest performances throughout that never rely on showy help convey why this still speaks to us despite essentially rehashing a plot that has been in use for almost 40 years.
One thing that Creed II does is rewrite its past with most pleasing results. It is not an unusual thing to come across revisionist history in true stories but Rocky might be a stretch. Yet Creed II Makes Rocky IV a far more tragic and deeper experience than it has any right to be. The fallout of The Cold War loss left a broken man Ivan Drago who has been haunted by this and has passed on the need to redeem his family on the rather hefty shoulders of his son Viktor. Their story despite, being the villains of the story is devastating and the last scenes they share are gut-wrenching. The result being one of the mostnuanced performances of Dolph Lundgren’s career.
Most criticisms that will be leveled at Creed II are what its lacking compared to the first film. Again, I want to emphasise this doesn’tmake it a bad film just not as good when compared to it. One thing that Ryan Coogler’s movie captured was a sense of being in the ring. It was an intangibleand difficult to describe quality that made you feel like you were in themiddle of it all, making each punch feel weightier. Creed II offers something more conventional, adequate but conventional.
A greater travesty might be the lack of anything for the character of Rocky Balboa to do in this film. Sly Stallone literally waits in a medical room and more broadly called back into the story when needed. It’s a shame because of how integral he was to the original Creed adding even more heart to it. Here his aimlessness is frustrating and a family conflict that was resolved in the last Rocky movie is brought out as they attempt to close out the Balboa story.
Creed II Review Cheat Sheet.
Creed II is a solid but inferior sequel. Like every film before it, it follows a formula that doesn’t help by the lacking visuals and the struggle to find anything to do with the titular Rocky. It’s take on the events of Rocky IV help it overcome its weaknesses but leave it being only an enjoyable experience rather than a must-see one.
+ Formula still works.
+ Solid performances throughout give resonance to the heart of the film.
+ Revisionist history of Rocky IV gives new meaning to the Drago story.
-Boxing is lacking the visual flair of the original.
-Struggles to find Rocky a story.