Creed II - Review
The removal of Ryan Coogler takes with it all the excitement.
Where Creed had the advantage of being a return to a decade-dormant franchise, beloved by many a mother and aunt, it’s sequel has a much tougher battle. It is essentially a remake of Rocky IV, and one of the most predictable movies in recent memory. But Michael B. Jordan’s performance is as great as ever, and that’s where Creed II really succeeds. The script is tired, the opponent an echo of a greater one, and Rocky is still stuck in the past; but fights are bigger, harder, and more entertaining than the first. There is little to distinguish Creed II from its franchise, but it is at least a display of how to make a competent boxing movie.
With Creed II we are spared from another origin story, but what replaces it is much worse. Fresh off his Heavyweight Champion of the World title, Adonis is ready to take his next fight with the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father in the ring. The title becomes very important to Adonis later in the film, but is undercut by a lacking introduction. Rocky’s journey to the coveted title felt earned, bled through, while Adonis’ is handed to him in the opening scene. It’s important to start a film with something captivating, but this scene is all show. This is where the predictability begins, right after the big win. Adonis is riding high, will get knocked down, and be forced to learn from his mistakes to rise again. This should sound familiar. It is no longer an exciting story, and even though Michael B. Jordan is bringing his A game to the role, it is still a meaningless retread without a fraction of the heart that the first four Rocky films captured.
Sylvester Stallone’s script is lacking style. The opponent, Viktor Drago, is a massive and imposing foe, but he lives too much in his father’s shadow to be very interesting. Dolph Lundgren’s return is welcome, but like his son, is too mired in melodrama. I don’t expect Rocky and Ivan to get back in the ring and duke it out, but something more than lame insults would have helped raise the tension. The script also has no idea how to deal with Ivan’s changing role, as one moment he is determined for his son to be the greatest in the world, then after seeing a possible defeat, throws in the towel, beginning the Drago redemption arc, and the last great blunder of Creed II. The handling of this tender and unique subject is poor, relegated to a single scene of the pair running together in the cold. The symbol is obvious to a fault, and disappointing for a set of characters so explosive, in theory. Creed II takes too many shots without following all the way through, and while it hasn’t lost what makes a Rocky film exciting, it’s forgotten just about everything else.