Creed II (Movie Review)

When Creed was released in 2015, I was both excited and sceptical. Movie spin-offs can usually go one of two ways. For every Rogue One, you can get a Terminator Genysis. Thankfully, the film was both a critical and commercial success, proving that there is life in the Rocky Saga yet, leading us into Creed II. Could the same success be repeated again? Or is it time to throw in the towel? I’m happy to report that the bell hasn’t rung on this franchise just yet.

Adonis Creed is the heavyweight champion of the world, yet he is still missing something which will cement his legacy. Against the wishes of father figure Rocky, a fight with Viktor Drago, son of Ivan, is arranged, with Creed seeing this as the perfect opportunity to avenge his father. Haunted by the regret of not stopping Apollo’s fight with Ivan, Balboa stays away. Following the fight, Adonis’ life takes a downward spiral. With the help of Rocky, fiancée Bianca, and the birth of his child, we experience the rebirth of Creed as a fighter, as well as some of the most brutal and gripping scenes in the series’ history.

Michael B Jordan is on top form as Creed. This is a young man torn between pride and doing the right thing. Jordan shines in the role, with the confidence and charisma needed to keep the audience on side, but also with the ability to take us through some of the darkest times of his characters life. Stallone’s Rocky is as charming and likeable as ever, in what could be his final performance in the series. The Drago’s Dolph Lundgren (Ivan) and Florian Munteanu (Viktor) create some of the most tense and intimidating scenes of the film. Ivan is fuelled by the fury of his father’s defeat decades ago, adamant to crush anyone who stands in his way.  

It’s with the Drago’s that I feel Creed II shines. Writers Juel Taylor and Stallone successfully branch out the story of the disgraced Russian giant, turning a character fans of the series have loathed, into a character you can’t help but pity and feel sorry for. Following defeat to Rocky in Soviet Russia, Ivan loses everything: his wife, home and the respect of the Russian people. All he is left with is Viktor, his son, who he sees as the one to restore honour to their family. Creed II successfully adds humanity to the character of Ivan, a huge change for the person seen as an emotionless machine; a propaganda article of the Soviet regime from a darker time.

Legacy is an important thing for Adonis Creed, and it’s through respecting the legacy of the previous movies that most Rocky fans will be satisfied. From the inspiring soundtrack with the occasional Rocky theme; to the climb of the Philadelphia steps; to gruelling training montages, there is no doubt that this is a Rocky film in all but name. That’s not to say that if you haven’t seen Rocky then this film isn’t for you. Creed is the main event here: whether it’s his relationship with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca; the almost rebellious father/son bond with Rocky; or his struggles at becoming a father, this is a character whose corner you will be in every step of the way.

Steven Caple Jr has directed Creed II very effectively. You’ll feel the fear as Creed squares up to Viktor Drago, the size of this monster a sight to behold. You will flinch at every blow taken in some of the most ferocious scenes shown in a Rocky film. You will struggle with Creed through his heartbreak, willing him on as he rediscovers himself. Creed II will have you hooked right up to the very end, with not a dull moment in sight.

If there are any complaints to be had with Creed II, I would say that the film is too predictable at times. Featuring two fights between Creed and Drago, you know the way this is going to go. You’ve seen this all before. But if you look past the predictability that comes with the Rocky films, you are in for a roller-coaster of a ride.

Creed II is one of my favourite films of 2018. With intense action scenes, tear-jerking moments, and fan-pleasing references, this is a film that does not disappoint. I’m not sure where the Creed series goes from here, with the story rounding off perfectly and Stallone declaring that he has now finished with Rocky. If this is our final story in a movie franchise spanning over 40 years, it could not have ended on a more brilliant note.

Overall Score: 9/10

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