Following on from Ryan Coogler’s impressive resuscitation of the Rocky franchise , we return once more to the career of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). He has since reached the heights of becoming a world champion, fallen deeper in love with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and still leans on the advice of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) as coach and father figure.
Yet all is not well in the Creed house. Success brings its own problems and pressures, he is to become a father and his career and legacy hinges on the ability to vanquish a ghost from his family’s past in the form of Ivan Drago’s son Viktor. This upcoming and coming Drago is chiselled straight from Russian granite and as heavy a hitter as the old Russian hammer and sickle that once adorned his own father’s ring gear.
Adonis feels the pull to exact revenge for his father’s death at the hands of Drago all those years ago and this emotion is used against him as bait by a promoter who sees dollar signs all over this proposed fight.
Coogler’s Creed dealt with Adonis coming to terms with who he was while this sequel looks more at who he wants to be. What type of champion. What type of man. What type of boyfriend. Daddy issues are still a key element of Creed II. The shadow of Apollo Creed looming over Adonis as he trains in his father’s gym, stares at him from old pictures acting as a reminder for him and part nostalgia for the older viewer Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) has his own set of Daddy issues to bear, longing to impress and restore value to the Drago name and when the confrontation does come you feel the fight is for something more than championship gold.
Yet at times Creed II feels a little clunky, more as if the audience’s love for nostalgia and a desperate desire to see Creed succeed is providing the real momentum. There is some seriously cheesy greeting card insert dialogue at play, mostly espoused by Rocky who has morphed (even more so than last time) into a fount of sage advice, relationship counselling and predictive knowledge. Rocky knows best and if we are all honest we can all see it coming. While this is mainly a boxing film I felt that a little more time spent with Creed the family man would have been beneficial, as that aspect of the character was much more interesting than any training montage or time spent swapping cliched conversations with Rocky.
However, it’s hard to deny that when that all too familiar tunes and beats began to play the hair on my neck quickly rose with anticipative attention and excitement. Fight sequences were well shot and choreographed and made we wince and move me closer to the edge of my seat as they progressed.
Creed II is a sequel that does enough to give us one more round in the Rocky franchise I’m just not convinced this decades old franchise can sustain many more rounds to come. This film is not a straight knockout, there are issues and aspects that could be tightened up but there is more than enough to warrant awarding it a victory on points.
Creed II is on general release in cinemas now.