Creed II: A Thrilling Addition To The Rocky Legacy | AIB
Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) just won the heavyweight belt, consolidating his rising career and creating his own boxer legacy, leaving behind the nickname of being the son of Apollo Creed. Upon returning home, Adonis proposes marriage to Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and decides to follow his advice and move to Los Angeles, but is not sure to leave Rocky (Sylvester Stallone).
While Creed tries to resolve details in his head about the critical changes in life that happen, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) emerges from Ukraine with his wrestling son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), looking for a fighting chance with Adonis. An angle of revenge resurfaces after Ivan killed Apollo thirty years ago.
If you think that this is much like the latest Rocky movies, you’re absolutely right, because it is unlike Creed, which was a drama covered in a boxing movie. The reason why Creed was successful as a restart of the “Rocky” franchise is that it was less a sequel and more a movie by itself.
Director Ryan Coogler brought a rawness to the film that brought out the best performance of Stallone since the original film and turned Michael B. Jordan into a superstar. The first film used boxing as a way to discuss pain, loss, race and a lot of other sub-textual subjects, while still giving the final release that all good sports movies offer.
Creed II does not hide the return of Ivan, so the reappearance of the “villain” of “Rocky IV” is a priority for the sequel, presenting the character as a disgraced man, working with Viktor to become the best boxer in Ukraine. The villain is literally a beast, built like a tank and fed a lifetime of forced labor and disappointments, even with abandonment problems after his mother, Ludmila (Brigitte Nielsen), left both men a long time ago. Ivan’s parental influence is apparent, but not exaggerated in the script (by Stallone and Juel Taylor). There is a mission, and it is to restore respect for the name of Drago.
The film clearly presents what is legacy and fatherhood, and has an excellent opportunity to contrast the relationship of Drago with Rocky / Apollo / Adonis, but drops the ball with force in the plot of Viktor Drago. There is an attempt to make both Ivan and Viktor more than just wicked Russian punching bags, but he is so unenthusiastic that the real issues are lost in your desire to see Viktor fall on the canvas. The first film would have subtly pulled these threads, turning everyone into well-rounded characters. This new release simply makes you feel excited about the latest boxing sequence, with dramatic themes scattered throughout the cheering crowd.
The film also dodges the social problems that the successor handled so wonderfully. In fact, it dodges almost any problem at all. Because Rocky IV was the propaganda of the Cold War at its best, it is surprising to see that Creed II does not even intend to discuss the current relations between Russia and the United States. The film completely ignores all modern political or social issues in favor of telling a boxing story in a social vacuum.
Director Steven Caple Jr. is much more interested in making the film look impressive more than it counts, creating a visually sumptuous work, full of training montages that are often impressive but lack the basis of the original. The final montage, an inverse tribute to Rocky IV’s mountaineering epic, is especially striking in its visual direction, while it is almost as ridiculous as the scene that influenced it.
Stallone, Jordan and the rest of the cast seem to know this too. Their performances are not bad, but the heart and soul that they took out of themselves for the last movie seem to have moved away. Stallone delivers his emotional monologues on this occasion as well. Jordan’s Adonis looks more like a character than the real person in the first film, and Lundgren is not given enough to work to see if he is there or not. Muntenau is probably the most surprising performance since the boxer delivers a sadly limited turn that still shows a remarkable emotional range for not having almost lines.
It’s an entirely well-crafted, well-directed and well-performed sports movie. Sometimes, a sports movie is just a sports movie, and Creed II is an entertaining movie in its result, like most Rocky movies, are for several reasons. It is full of sports training assemblies, moments that make you sit on the edge of your seat and performances that give you the emotional and physical blow when you need it. Not that it’s a hard feat to enthuse the audience when you have the Rocky theme at full volume, and two boxers go face to face, but Creed II makes it interesting but repetitive.