Review: Creed II
Ryan Coogler‘s Creed had no right to be as good as it was. After all, it was sequel to the Rocky series made years later about a spin-off character. It could have been a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, mediocrity. But Coogler proved that good writing and direction could make the film worth caring about and blazed the trail for a whole spin-off series. Creed II returns with a now boxing champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) being challenged by the son of the man who killed his father, Ivan Drago. Despite being without Coogler at the directorial helm, Creed II delivers another solid boxing film that, even with a predictable character arc and story, still has the proper doses of ethos, nostalgia, and boxing action to be a solid film.
Steven Caple Jr. sits on the director’s chair this time, this being only his second feature. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable difference in the quality of direction. Creed remained visually dynamic throughout and culminates in that memorable one-take boxing fight. Without Coogler, this film is never quite as interesting to look at and has nothing on the level of the one-take fight. Still, Caple Jr. does a decent enough job with the flow of the film and offers a striking shot near the end involving Rocky himself.
The acting remains solid in this outing as well. Michael B. Jordan is no longer a surprise, having made a name as a talented and dynamic actor. He seems even more settled in the role of Creed, and manages to portray his brokenness in certain scenes without being melodramatic. Sylvester Stallone returns as Rocky in a reduced but still powerful role. The relationship between Creed and Rocky is still compelling and a good source of drama when it needs to be, but Rocky is much more of a supporting character here than in the first. Tessa Thompson (whose career, like Jordan’s, has grown by leaps and bounds since the first film) returns as Bianca, who becomes Adonis’s finance in this entry.
The structure of the film makes predicting its events an easy task. There are some nice arcs on the themes of parenthood and legacy that make for touching moments, and there is even some unexpected sympathy elicited for Ivan and Viktor. Dolph Lundgren returns as Ivan, which is neat, but if future sequels continue to religiously adhere to the past Rocky films, it might limit their possibilities.
Despite the lack of surprises, Creed II continues this latter-day return to form for the Rocky franchise. With a willingness to take the story in different directions, the series might continue to excel. It should be interesting to see where Creed and his family, including Rocky, go from here. Even the Dragos could see their stories continue. With its themes of family, Creed II is worth seeing this holiday season.
Flickchart Stats for the Rocky Franchise:
- Rocky – Global rank #95
- Creed – Global rank #835
- Rocky II – Global rank #873
- Rocky IV – Global rank #1478
- Rocky III – Global rank #1563
- Rocky Balboa – Global rank #3449
- Creed II – Globally unranked… so far. Rank it and check back to watch it climb the chart.