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Faith And Creed-ibility: A Review Of 'Creed II'

The first Rocky film was released in 1976; and it’s obviously a record in fortitude to see the franchise still alive in 2018, with one of the major stars still playing a pivotal role (Star Wars came out in 1977). One can point to the James Bond franchise as dating back to the 1960s, but they’ve cheated if we factor in how many times there’s been a Bond reincarnation—Daniel Craig is the 7th. So we can pat Sylvester Stallone on his 72 year-old geriatric back for keeping the Rocky flag waving.

 


And let’s face it, we all thought the last nail had been pounded into the Rocky coffin, only to be totally surprised when Ryan Coogler’s Creed showed up in 2015, and was a box office smash creating its own magic and film DNA. So no surprise to find Hollywood (and Stallone) more than ready to create a new extended franchise, and have Creed II hit our screens. 

 


With Michael B. Jordan back playing Adonis Creed, and Sylvester Stallone on board co-writing and starring, there is continuity from that first Creed. But unfortunately, Coogler isn’t back as the director, and we have Stephen Caple Jr. who has done impressive films, but may not have had the same kind of control Coogler had with Creed, when it was Coogler himself pushing for the film to be produced in the first place. 

 

 


Story wise, this second installment does try to stretch Creed via marriage to Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and childbirth, but for most moviegoers this will be eclipsed by the headlining theme of son of Creed fights son of Drago. Yes, it’s Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan (Dolph Lundgren), who emerges as this film’s true adversary—and there’s strong irony and poetry here as Ivan Drago is the one who caused Apollo Creed to expire in the ring back in Rocky IV.

And where there’s Drago, can Buddy (Brigitte Nielsen) be far behind? It’s all out Rocky IV nostalgia in this Creed II; and as a result, the more interesting narrative strands for Adonis’ personality development gets overshadowed. And that is a shame as you see the effort was made to make this film more than just Creed vs. Drago—the first fight happens midway through the film. 

 


There’s the theme of finding faith in himself for Adonis, of picking up the pieces and establishing what is really important now that he has a wife and daughter. But obviously, this is a Hollywood product and before you can say fatherhood, we’re sent back to the world of boxing. Thankfully, Jordan is great throughout, and carries our interest come Drago-Hell or High Water. On its own, this is a satisfying film; but it doesn’t take over and fascinate the way the first Creed did—maybe that’s just the inevitable curse of the sequel. 

 

Lead photos via @creedmovie