Movie Review | Creed II
Movie summary: Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago. (IMDb)
I went into Creed II without having seen the original, so that should be taken into account when reading this review. Fortunately, this movie is pretty damn good, even if the extremely predictable boxing action stops it being anything great.
The first person to praise is Michael B Jordan as Adonis Creed, who is utterly fantastic yet again here. I know that he's in a lot of stuff already, but the guy is so talented that I really wish he was in even more. It helps that he's given some great stuff to work with.
While the main plot is predictable, it does allow for some really great character work outside the ring and Jordan delivers in every single way asked of him. This goes for his character at his lowest, and the climb back up to where he needs to be by the end of the movie.
And where he needs to be is probably more important for Adonis' personal life than his boxing career - Creed II does deliver more than a few huge moments that get very little attention and deliver very little impact to set things up and it's only once the stage has been set that the film really gets going.
A huge amount of this is based in Adonis' relationship with Bianca, which undergoes a couple of the major changes mentioned above. Bianca is played by Tessa Thompson and she pretty much matches Jordan's efforts, which is what makes the non-boxing scenes the highlights of the movie.
Stallone's Rocky Balboa is also good, although it does occasionally feel as if Rocky threatens to take over the story from Adonis. I don't know how much his character was involved in the original, but there was definitely more than one occasion when I wished we could get back to Adonis and Bianca.
His presence is pretty essential though, with the boxing story effectively being a sequel to Rocky IV with Dolph Lundgren returning as Ivan Drago, and Florian Munteanu as his son, Viktor. For long stretches, they feel like paper-thin disposable antagonists, but each scene they have slowly builds on the last and they both become fairly sympathetic characters by the time the action is over.
When it comes down to it, Creed II is more about husbands and wives, as well as parental figures - absent and present - more than it is about the boxing and that's a good thing. There are three fights in this movie and, if you know anything about how stories work, you can probably predict how they go without ever seeing the movie.
The fights themselves aren't too bad, although they never feel quite real, and the crowd sounds are oddly muted. I don't know if this is a stylistic carry-over from Ryan Coogler's Creed, but it does make them feel even more artificial and staged than we already know they are.
If you're looking for a fantastic boxing film, then Creed II probably isn't going to be for you. If you want a film about the personal lives of boxers and how their lives affects those of the people they care about, then you'll love a lot of what happens in this movie.
Creed II is an enjoyable film in its own right, although you might well get more satisfaction out of the events we see if you've seen the first movie. The central plot is more than a little predictable, but the characters are so well-performed that you'll probably get more out of the non-boxing scenes anyway.