Movie Review Monday: Creed II
With few new releases hitting our theater, we finally got around to catching the latest installment in the Rocky franchise, Creed II. This sequel was directed by Steven Caple, Jr. and written by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor. The story follows Adonis Creed as he comes face to face with a new adversary in Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor Drago. Michael B. Jordan reprises his role as Adonis Creed while Sylvester Stallone reprises his role once again as Rocky Balboa. The cast also sees the return of Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, and Wood Harris, and also introduces Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago.
Set three years after the events of Creed, Adonis Creed has achieved a string of victories since the end of the first film. In the midst of Adonis’ success, Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor, has been training and achieving his own measure of success in his corner of the world. Adonis’ success leads to him fighting Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler for the heavyweight boxing championship. After the fight, he proposes to his longtime girlfriend, Bianca, and at Bianca’s suggestion, he contemplates starting a new life with her in Los Angeles. Whenever a challenge is issued from Viktor Drago to Creed, though, Adonis finds himself considering whether he should take the fight against the family that killed his father. This challenge sets the whole story into motion and pushes Creed and all those around him to their limits.
Creed II can be counted among the list of successful sequels that we have seen hit theaters this year. Now, boxing is not really a sport that I actively follow or find interesting, but these movies are incredibly well done. There are a lot of parallels in terms of shots between this one and the first Creed, and it gave this movie a similar tone to the first. To be honest, if I did not already know that this movie was directed by Caple, I would have assumed that Ryan Coogler had returned to direct this one as well. In terms of story, it becomes a blend of some of the previous Rocky films, but the story somehow manages to work. The boxing sequences are just as intense and impressive as they were in the first film, and I never get tired of hearing the Rocky theme woven into specific moments.
The reason this movie works as well as it does is because of the themes and the performances given by these actors. The film delves into the topics of legacy and the relationships between fathers and sons, and these themes bring a lot of meaning and heart to the fight between Creed and Drago. These themes impact Adonis, Rocky, Ivan, and Viktor, and I found the character arcs for all of them to be well developed. Of course, the cast helps bring these themes and stories to life. Tessa Thompson continues to shine as Bianca, and she delivers on some intense, emotional moments for her character. Florian Munteanu was an excellent choice as Viktor Drago and delivers on the intimidating presence that this character needs to be. Michael B. Jordan continues to be the standout as he channels Adonis’ many struggles, and as with the first, I think that the relationship between Rocky and Adonis is the anchor of the film. They are a team, and it is their own father and son type relationship that makes these stories so meaningful.
Overall, I would say that Creed II is not quite as fluid of a film as Creed, but it is an enjoyable and moving story. The performances are all excellent, and the outer and inner battles that Adonis faces makes this story especially compelling. Also, the fight sequences are tough to watch but every moment of them are engaging. I have no idea where the Rocky franchise will go from here, but I suggest giving Creed II a watch in theaters, especially if you have followed this franchise from the beginning.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.