When the Creed spin off was first announced, audiences were skeptical to if this was simply another money grabbing franchise, put together for a quick cash in. But just like prior release Rocky Balboa, Creed proved to be an excellent addition to the Rocky series. Focusing on the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis Creed(Michael B Jordan), as he is taken under the wings of a retired Rocky. Creed 2, no longer has the influential Ryan Coogler attached to the project, but ultimately, new director Steven Caple Jr. still delivers an excellent sequel.
Even though the fights bring the glamour to these movies, the Rocky franchise has always been more about the story and character development. Creed 2 manages to give both Creed, and his rival, the son of the lethal Ivan Drago, Viktor (Munteanu) , some real personality. Adonis is actually far more unlikable in this film, as opposed to Viktor. Adonis with his arrogance and resentment, comes across far more conflicted, which makes his progress throughout the movie far more enjoyable. Dealing with his engagement and child brings him a far tougher challenge than anything the ring has thrown at him.
Speaking of Viktor, he is far more captivating of an opponent, than the rival in the first film (boxer Tony Bellew’s Ricky Conlon). Conlon was simply a generic cocky, brash prize-fighter, seen many times over. Although Munteanu is not a professional boxer, unlike Bellew, his relationship with his once formidable, but now disgraced father Ivan (Lundgren) really gives Viktor an edge in terms of a personality. The final showdown is done is such a way, you really do end up rooting for both of them to win, as they are both dealing with such inner turmoil. The boxing is as well filmed as they always are in this franchise. You can really feel every killer hook or brutal knockdown.
Stallone is as endearing as always as the aging Italian Stallion, though he doesn’t have as big a role as the previous film, his character is as warming as ever, and his arc does get wrapped up nicely. If the rumors are true, it would be a nice way to write out the legend. Tessa Thompson also shines again as Creed’s partner Bianca, she is nicely incorporated into Adonis’s facade both in and out the ring. It would have been easy for the film to simply wash over her hearing issues, but it’s used for some powerful scenes this time around.
The movie does suffer from following the usual Rocky formula, borrowing elements from both Rocky 3 & 4. The film is rather predictable to any one who is familiar with any of the previous entries, It’s also a shame that Rocky & Drago don’t really share much screen time together, bar their first meeting early in the movie. Apparently there were some post fight scenes as our old foes share a moment of respect, but it was cut. As soon as the final fight ends, it cuts right to the conclusion of the film. One other nagging moment is that the iconic training montage just seems to lack something to make it Rocky caliber, not just your everyday montage.
Those criticisms aside, Creed 2 is still a fascinating sequel. Adonis really changes as a person, and our antagonist is also as endearing as our hero. The fight scenes are incredibly powerful and wonderfully shot. In all honesty, there really is no need to make a third installment. Though if anything, a film following the Dragos journey to redemption would be just as intriguing to watch.