Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the Heavyweight Champion of the World faces the fight of his life when his father's former rival steps out of the shadows. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), seeing an opportunity to regain some of the glory he lost in his fight with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), pits his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) against the newly minted champ. But with more than just the title on the line, will history repeat itself?
If Creed is Rocky, then Creed II is a blend of the Rocky sequels, specifically II, III and IV. Steven Caple Jr. does a good job taking over from Ryan Coogler, but Creed II is a typical sequel; bigger, more grandiose, but packing less punch (hah, boxing pun). However some great performances do a lot to make this an entertaining watch. All of the returning cast are on top form, including Dolph Lundgren, whose performance is a lot more layered than in Rocky IV. But one of the most impressive performances comes from Florian Munteanu. You'd expect Viktor to pretty much be a man mountain, but there is a lot more to this character and Florian's portrayal of him. And despite not getting many lines, he is able to emote so much of what this character is going through.
Creed II actually shares several story points with - of all things - Iron Man 2. As the hero sees success in the west, the son of his father's enemy rises in the east to challenge him. And challenge him he does! The fight scenes are very well choreographed, and can be brutal to watch. There were times when I could hear audience members wincing as a result of some of the blows that these fighters were taking. But, as with all Rocky movies, there's more to this than a boxing match. This is about two sons trying to live with their fathers' legacy. And it's interesting to see both Adonis and Viktor deal with this in their own way. Although, with Balboa and Drago face-to-face for the first time in 30 years, I would like to have seen more of a legacy clash. But apart from a little conversation and a few stares across the ring, nothing really comes of it. I would also like to have seen more of Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad, who just didn't have the same impact as they did in Creed.
Despite being a little predictable, Creed II does make for an entertaining watch. Steven Caple Jr. has created the Creed equivalent of a Rocky sequel (more spectacle, less character), and much like those sequels, Creed II doesn't quite live up to the original. It is a lot of fun to catch up with these characters, to see where they are since the events of Creed, and Rocky IV - watch out for a surprise cameo. But I think the legacy should end here. I don't think we need to see Adonis take on another epic fight in which he must battle his inner demons/daddy issues as much as he does the other guy in the ring. Creed II would make the perfect end to an incredible collection of movies.
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