Creed II is a winner, but it can't match the succession of devastating blows delivered by Ryan Coogler’s original film
How do you top a film that managed to reignite a seemingly extinct franchise, bring it back as more relevant and emotionally nuanced than ever, all while deconstructing it in the process? Going by Creed II, the sequel to Ryan Coogler’s 2015 reboot of the Rocky films, the answer is you can’t, but you should sure as hell try to anyway.
Creed II tries to be a more positive beast than its predecessor. Where Creed explored the darker themes of life, the sequel prefers to celebrate its finer moments. There are nearly as many montages of happy life milestones such as house moves and pregnancies as there are fight training.
This focus change is reflected in Michael B Jordan’s Adonis Creed. Just as Stallone’s Oscar-nominated performance is the emotional core of Creed, Jordan’s sensitive performance is the heart and soul of Creed II. His Adonis is a man who is still growing from the fragile figure shown in the first film, and the sequel tries to show how family is no longer his greatest fear but his greatest strength and fuel. The contrast with humongous challenger Viktor Drago, who uses the fear of a broken family as his fuel, is a tad heavy-handed but works well because it is backed up by surprisingly moving performances from Florian Munteanu and Dolph Lundgren (reprising his role as Rocky's nemesis Ivan Drago).
However, despite its best efforts to try and build on Coogler’s legacy, Creed II frustratingly can’t help but frequently settle for the tried-and-tested combos of past films, moving more to the rhythm of Rocky III than rocking freely. Consequently, Creed II feels much more formulaic than it needed to be. In relying on a familiar structure, the looseness, rawness and unpredictability of Creed is not there and thus it ends up lacking the succession of devastating blows delivered by Coogler’s film.
Released by Warner Bros