Taking place just a few years after Creed, Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone return to the ring in Creed II. The film opens with Adonis Creed (Jordan) becoming the new Heavyweight Champion, a honor once held by his father Apollo (Carl Weathers).
With newfound glory comes a new challenger by the name of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu).
Viktor is the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who over 30 years ago killed Apollo Creed in the ring. The Drago’s seek a second chance at glory, while Adonis seeks closure for the death of his father. This leads to an epic fight between the second generation fighters.
What I Liked
The best part of Creed II is the seamless reintroduction the Drago story line into the film. This story is the only way this sequel could have gone. The Drago vs Creed lineage is crucial to the story of Adonis Creed. The reason we got the first Creed film is due to the actions that took place in Rocky IV.
As with the first film, the performances of Jordan, Stallone, and Tessa Thompson are marvelous. You feel every bit of drama these characters encounter because of said performances. The cast added to this sequel hold their own against the actors returning.
The characterization of Ivan Drago and his son Viktor are far superior to that of Rocky IV. The Drago family is no longer this one note evil fighter from Russia. He and his son have motivations. These motivations are felt through their performances as well as the writing from Juel Taylor and Stallone.
What Could Have Been Improved
Director Ryan Coogler did not return for this sequel, being replaced by Steven Caple Jr. The biggest thing missing from this film is Coogler. He brought new life to the Rocky franchise with Creed. Without Coogler the film is like a pie that is missing it’s crust.
The only other nitpick I have is that the pacing could have picked up in the 2nd act. Often times the film feels like Rocky IV with it’s pacing. Other times it slows down for a lot of character moments like Rocky II. Not saying we needed more Survivor to add energy to the film, but it needed more Survivor to energize the film.
Creed II is an excellent addition to the Rocky/Creed franchise. Each character and performance is spot on. The protagonists and antagonists are given time to grow, allowing for compelling drama. I hope this is the closing chapter for the Rocky and Creed story line. The film feels like the perfect closure for both characters and their journey.
Overall Score 4/5
Review by Casey Kelderman, Back Lot 605 Co-Host