Creed was one of my favorite movies of 2015. It truly embodied what made the Rocky series special. What it was able to do was take an established, loved franchise and breath new life into the cliches and tropes of old. The movie was exciting and entertaining to watch from start to finish and it was driven not by the action, but through the captivating characters, that drove the narrative. While it did not anything necessarily new, it kept your interested and invested not only by the lore that surrounded the Rocky series for old fans but also for newcomers who may not have known the series
So when I heard that the sequel was going to tackle the event that ultimately created Adonis Creed as we know him today, I was hysterically excited but became a bit hesitant when I learned that the original director Ryan Coogler wouldn’t be returning to direct because of his involvement with Black Panther.
For those who may not know what I am talking about, let me catch you up. You learn in Creed that Adonis played by Michael B Jordan is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed who was Rocky’s close friend and rival in the ring. Apollo dies by the hand of Ivan Drago, the Russian Olympic champion who was challenging American boxers to showcase and promote Russia. Rocky relinquishes his title was the Heavyweight Champion of the World to travel to Russia to get revenge for Apollo. Rocky wins their bout in the end after a grueling match. They tell these events in Creed with Adonis in that movie trying to live up to his father’s legacy while also trying to discover who he is.
Creed 2 picks up a few years after the events of the first movie with Adonis challenging the current title holder of the heavyweight title.
While the plot may have been a bit formulaic, I would argue that if the beats ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Creed 2 is like a combination of plot points pulled from the previous Rocky movies. Elements and movie beats for old time fans will be noticed. However, they are executed so well that at the end of the day, you won’t be able to walk away and say you were thoroughly entertained. At this moment, I can’t tell you which one I like more at the moment. I will probably have to see it again to make that call.
The one thing that stands out about this movie is the characters which I have praised for being nothing short of great writing and amazing acting.
Rather than follow the simple route of making Viktor Drago a typical antagonist who is the big bad because of something that his father did, the movies flesh out the Viktor and by extension Ivan Drago by giving us a perspective into their lives. Florian Munteanu, the athlete that plays Ivan Drago’s son Victor isn’t an actor. You can tell in how they limited his speaking lines. But his expressions were moving! He spoke a lot in his body language. You could see the burden he was carrying in his actions. And for Dolph Lundgren, he did one hell of a job in this role. The fated conversation between Ivan and Rocky was bone-chilling. You can tell that he was a man that had lost everything which in turn, made him grounded from his portrayal in Rocky 4. Because of this, the movie beings the shift from being a stereotypical revenge movie to something more meaningful.
What continues to drives that shift is Adonis’s story arc in the film. In Creed, Adonis was navigating his life in the attempt to live up to his father’s legacy and the struggles that came with that as attempted to step out of his father’s shadow. Here, after seemingly accomplishing that, the tethers of his father’s death reaches out to pull him back in with the challenge from Viktor while also tackling new frontiers with his girlfriend Bianca as their relationship grows more intimate and more complex.
Speaking of Bianca, Tessa Thompson was absolutely fascinating and carried some of my favorite moments in the movie. They continue the problems that she faced in the original Creed concerning her hearing and added really gut-wrenching moments that is hinted in the trailer with clips of the baby. Her chemistry with Michael B. Jordan is adorable at times and really believable and it insightful to see what a woman connected to a boxer goes through. I also like that fact that she called on Adonis’s mom for advice.
Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Rocky after being nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor in the previous film and I feel like it picks up right where he left off. Though his role is changing with Adonis coming into his own, he is still the father figure that Adonis can rely on and their moments are beautiful to watch. Watching Rocky struggle with the idea of reaching out to his remaining family (something he speaks about in the first film) while being there for all of Adonis moments really made you understand the conflict inside of him and watching that on screen hurt a little bit.
The action is this movie remains top notch in this film. Every time a punch lands, you feel the power and the impact. The weight of some of those punch made some of the members of the audience that I saw it with curl up. Seriously, I wanted more. The audience wanted more. Though I have to say that the fights in this movie lost some of the air of narrative. In the first, each of the fights showcased its own miniature story in a way. Here, I didn’t get that same experience. But outside of the small detail, those fights are pure spectacles. Also, I like the fact that Max Kellerman was in the movie.
As a fan of the original score of the first Creed and someone who still occasionally plays through the soundtrack, I can say while the score wasn’t bad, I prefer Creed’s score over this one. It felt a bit all over the place for me and it did not carry the emotion like the Creed’s music did. That being said, I have songs that I like. The songs performed by Tessa Thompson are just as fascinating to listen to like the tracks in the first movie. The remix on the training montage was moving as well and combined visually, make some really epic scenes. But there is something about that first soundtrack that had moved me in ways that this one didn’t.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Creed in some cases could have been called a Rocky movie and I understand why someone can make that claim. And if that is the case, Creed 2 was an Adonis movie. Even though it features events that happen in Rocky 4, it felt like a true passing of the torch. Not only does Adonis come into his own but so does the movie, establishing itself as a franchise that at this point should be able to stand on its own. Some reviewers I have read said that the series should end here and I strongly disagree. Just as Adonis had to step out of his father’s shadow and define himself, I feel like this franchise is now in a position to forge its own path and create its own legacy.
I really hope we get more. New characters and new storylines because with this cast, I feel like the sky is limit.
Final Verdict: Go out and Go see it!
This movie at the very least is entertaining. But you invest in it, I’m certain it will not disappoint.
As always, thank you guys for reading and I hope you enjoyed the review. What did you think of Creed 2? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Until the next movie review…