Sins of the Father
Creed II is directed by Steven Caple Jr. and stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson who all reprise their roles from Creed. Dolph Lundgren also stars and reprises his role from Rocky IV. Stallone also served as co-writer for the film.
I don't know what exactly is the long-term outlook of the character of Adonis Creed. 2015's Creed and now 2018's Creed II are the seventh and eighth installments respectively in the Rocky franchise, and in my mind, this is still telling the lifelong story of Rocky Balboa, as we are now seeing a retired Rocky in his elderly years, passing on his knowledge and love of the sport to the young newbie, Adonis Creed, who wants to be the next big thing in boxing. Now, Creed was pretty imitative of the first Rocky film, but Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone proved to be such a terrific pair, that it was hard to be upset about that film's similarities to Rocky. Creed II, meanwhile, decides to extend upon the story line of Rocky IV, which actually makes sense as a baseline for a sequel to Creed, because the events of that film directly relate to Adonis and his progression through life.
Three years after his loss to Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed has strung together a series of victories, eventually winning the WBC World Heavyweight Championship and becoming a worldwide star. Things are great in Adonis' personal life too: he proposes to his long-time girlfriend Bianca, and she says yes. Bianca suggests that the two of them move out to Los Angeles and start a new life there, but Adonis is hesitant to leave Philadelphia, especially because of how close he's grown to Rocky. One day, Adonis receives a challenge that he can't pass up: Ivan Drago, who killed Adonis' father in the ring before being disgraced in a loss to Rocky, prepares his son Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) to face off against Adonis for the World Heavyweight Championship. Rocky refuses to give Adonis his support for the match, leading to Adonis making the move to Los Angeles with Bianca. With so many new life changes distracting him, Adonis rushes through his training, and therefore, he suffers some grueling injuries during his match with Viktor. However, Viktor gets himself disqualified, allowing Adonis to retain the belt. Not that it matters a whole lot to Adonis; he is now a broken man, and if he ever hopes of bouncing back and taking on Viktor in a rematch, he may need a certain someone to show him the way.
- Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone are, once again, an absolute joy to watch together. The chemistry between the two in the first film was no fluke. While Stallone now looks entirely comfortable playing Rocky as a supporting character, Michael B. Jordan elevates his performance as Adonis to the next level. The story allows more opportunities to show Adonis as vulnerable, never losing sight of the character's human side amidst all of the training and in-ring fighting. Jordan makes the best of both worlds, with one of my favorite scenes being after he and Bianca have a baby girl, and Adonis is left to watch over the baby for the night while Bianca goes to have a night out for herself. In the first Creed, we only had to appreciate Adonis Creed, the boxer. Now we get to appreciate Adonis Creed, the husband and the father. Jordan never falters on anything asked of him by director Steve Caple Jr., all adding up to a performance that promises a bright future for this franchise.
- The real treasure of Creed II's story is its balancing act in terms of what's going on with the two sides outside the ring. There's not just everything going with Creed getting married to Bianca and having a child; we also get a solid look into the Drago family and what is really driving them to try and win against Creed. I won't go into specific details, but there is a clear effort here on the parts of Stallone and co-writer Juel Taylor to bring a human dimension to Ivan Drago and his son, not just restrict them to the status of, "power-hungry monsters who have no pleasures in life, other than to bring harm to others." It makes for a much more rewarding final showdown because of what we know is at stake for both sides.
- Creed II likes to adhere to familiar sports film conventions, resulting in a film that becomes increasingly predictable as it rolls along. About halfway through, you can easily see how the rest of the film will play out, thus, stripping the film of any remaining suspense and leaving you a bit disappointed that the film ends up deciding to play it safe instead of taking any sort of big-time risk. I think if this series of Creed films want to truly become something special, it's going to have take a major gamble at some point, assuming there will be at least a few more of these in the future.
Familiar sports storytelling aside, Creed II still packs a solid punch, especially because its central star, Michael B. Jordan, shows his undeniable commitment to the role, delivering a performance that successfully shows Adonis Creed as not only the tough-as-nails fighter, but the vulnerable human being as well. Sylvester Stallone is great too, as is the portrayal of the Drago characters. The film may not quite match up to its 2015 predecessor, but if these are the kind of solid sequels we'll keep getting to continue the Rocky franchise, Adonis Creed should keep going for as long as he can.
Recommend? Yes. Be sure to watch Creed first.
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