Updated: Dec 3, 2018
Directed by: #StevenCapleJr
‘You don’t think you got your validation?’ Creed is quizzed as he considers taking on the most dangerous fight of his career.
A franchise plenty could say wasn’t particularly in need of a continuation after Stallone hung up his gloves proves its worth again – Creed II is every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor and one of the strongest films of 2018. Michael B Jordan has his validation as he shows he’s not a one-hit wonder.
After a little confusion as to whether Ryan Coogler would return to helm, and the revised confirmation that Stallone would take over, the inexperienced Steven Caple Jr. was eventually confirmed as director and this will go down as a success for his first cinematic release.
Beginning with Adonis Creed (Jordan) no longer living in his father Apollo’s shadow, now a successful boxer with six wins under his belt, the sequel wastes no time getting back into the fight.
Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa (masterfully played by Stallone once more), Creed is the new heavyweight champion of the world, though many are suggesting he has shied away from a truly challenging fight. Cue the return of the Dragos in the form of Ivan’s son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) – a monster contender who towers over Creed and has shoulders wider than the ring.
The premise is strong and continues to find a solid balance between the legacy of the Rocky series as well as introducing stories and characters that will no doubt eventually stand more separate. But for now, the triple threat of Jordan, Stallone and Thompson leading the film in their own intelligently measured ways gives Creed II excellent emotional depth.
In some places there is a little too much reliance on cheesy dialogue, which seems to have been added because that is what is expected of the boxing film genre. Much of this is in the form of the Dragos presence, which is pretty much the only plot element the film doesn’t get entirely right. Despite the history of Rocky, Ivan and the Creeds, there seems to be a misplaced focus on the Dragos’ ego and their estrangement from family and country, in particular, Viktor’s mother, who abandoned him after the shame Ivan’s loss brought them. When it came to it, there was little relevance to this and the story may have been better suited addressing Rocky and Ivan’s rivalry in more depth.
Whilst Creed seemed to focus on the ego of Adonis, its successor explores his anger, particularly over his father’s needless death, and how to overcome this in order to reach a wiser and intelligent state. It’s a natural development that serves the plot well, and prevents us from watching the same storyline we’ve seen many times before. And whilst the structure and progression of the film is fairly standardised, the strength of the leading cast and well executed ring scenes forgive the predictability. Creed’s mentor relationship with Rocky and settling romance with Bianca are very heart-warming, and lead our desire for a third film.
A powerfully accurate representation of human complexity, rather than being just another boxing film, Creed II perhaps doesn’t have the same level of grit and fragility as the first, but it is a worthy sequel that truly enables a simple spin-off to develop into a successful franchise of its own worth.