It may be a little formulaic in parts however, Creed II is another winner with Stallone on fine form but Michael B. Jordan is frankly magnetic as a man truly facing despair. Dolph Lundgren steals every moment he is on screen and there are of course training montages and entertaining fights so it’s a must-see.
Plot: In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa, Apollo’s son Adonis Johnson accepts a challenge from Drago’s son — another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life — a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.
Review: This may be a bit spoilery as I struggled to review this without talking about some plot points so if you haven’t seen the movie yet I’d maybe read this after.
When I first heard that they were planning on bringing Ivan Drago back into the Rocky/Creed universe I was a little skeptical as I wasn’t sure how they could make such a character work in a modern movie as he was always a bit of a cartoon in the admittedly classic Rocky IV. I remember Andrew LeMay did a script a while back called Drago which focused on the character after the events of Rocky IV and it caused some buzz; I wonder if it was an inspiration for this movie.
After seeing the first few clips and trailers from Creed II my doubts had been allayed as this was going to be an interesting new vision of an iconic Rocky opponent.
It’s funny, I never hated Ivan Drago; I always found him as more of a puppet used purely for political means in the 4th movie and by the end of the fight with Rocky he begins to realize it too. 30 years later and Ivan Drago is a broken man; he has a son Victor (played by the monstrously huge Florian Munteanu) who he trains to be the most complete fighter in the world… sorry, wrong franchise. The Drago’s are essentially outcasts in their homeland who get by doing casual work with Victor taking on boxing matches proving he is going to be a force to reckon with.
On the other side of the world Adonis Creed is the new Heavyweight Champion, he is planning to marry his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and life generally seems to going well for him and yet Adonis still doesn’t quite feel complete. When the Drago’s come to Philadelphia a challenge is issued that will change Creed’s life forever.
Adonis Creed (played by the exceptionally talented Michael B. Jordan) goes through his own personal Hell with this movie as he faces despair, self-doubt and possibly suffering the same fate as his father. Jordan really showcases his acting range as he seems to be both physically and mentally anguished at several points.
One of my favourite moments from the film features Ivan Drago sitting in the restaurant with Rocky explaining how he lost everything. A part of me wanted the two former warriors to possibly make peace with each other but in reality you know that couldn’t happen and it would take away a lot of the drama.
Dolph Lundgren is at his absolute best in this movie as Drago and he almost has you sympathizing for him as he tries to claw his way back from oblivion through his son. I thought Victor (Florian) was also a more interesting character as he wasn’t driven by hate; all he wanted is the love of his father and mother (who left years ago). This movie is very much about parents and their sons with Rocky’s journey this time has him wanting to reconnect with his son who we haven’t seen since Rocky Balboa.
Adonis’s mother played by the amazing Phylicia Rashād worries that she may lose her boy but knows she can’t stop him as he will never feel complete unless he fights Drago for the right reasons. Bianca also fears that Adonis has changed and their relationship is strained but very believable. Tessa Thompson is immensely sympathetic as the long suffering girlfriend but is a very different character from Adrian so it’s not just going over the same ground once again.
Sylvester Stallone is as always mesmerizing as Rocky and gives him such heart that practically everything he says makes you want to cry. He is older and slightly more pathetic now, still missing Adrian but his relationship with Adonis also hits a rough patch as we have seen from the trailers that Rocky fears what could happen to him. He is still riddled with guilt as he never threw the towel in for Apollo all those years ago.
This is another first rate entry into the series with plenty of heart, emotion and of course excellent fight scenes which pulse with adrenaline.
It does feel rather formulaic at times and you have an idea where it will go but Creed II still manages to have a few surprises and there will be tears of manliness at various points.
I do miss Gonna Fly Now which is used briefly during the final fight (as it was in the first Creed) but the music is definitely a little less interesting this time around; it admittedly lacks the cheese factor but I personally love that aspect of Rocky.
Overall, Creed II is another knockout from Stallone, Lundgren and Jordan who are at their absolute best. The fight scenes are electric and the story is emotionally charged. I’m pretty sure Rocky will die in Creed III which is something I don’t think I can handle but for now just enjoy getting in the ring with legends once again.