DIRECTOR: Steven Caple Jr. (the land)
STARRING: michael b. jordan, sylvester stallone, dolph lundgren, and tessa thompson
REVIEWER: lyall carter
In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa, Apollo's son Adonis Johnson accepts a challenge from Drago's son - another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life - a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.
Now I have to be honest from the outset. I haven't seen any of the Rocky movies or 2015's Creed. They just weren't a part of my cinematic upbringing. After watching Creed II I think I'll need to binge me some Rocky.
Adonis Johnson has progressed through the ranks since the events of Creed three years ago and after challenging and beating Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler is the heavy weight champion of the world. But a ghost from Johnson's past, Ivan Drago, who killed Johnson's father Apollo Creed in the ring comes thundering into Johnson's life. He's brought his son Viktor, a vicious brawler of a fighter with him, who challenges Johnson for the title.
For someone who hasn't seen any of the previous films from the Rocky series, I never felt like I was in the dark story wise. The film makers did a great job at filling the audience in with enough back story to connect with the characters without any really heavy exposition.
The story flies along and is engaging until the end of the second act where it just kinda gets bogged down within itself as it attempts to muster enough hardship for Johnson to endure so that the audience really cares about the outcome of the upcoming boxing match. The film makers try the same trick with the Russian fighter Viktor, filling us in on his sorry past and trying to illicit sympathy for and empathy with him.
And it works. By the time the big fight happens at the end of the film you almost care more for Viktor than Adonis as Viktor has everything to gain personally from the fight while Adonis really doesn't have that much to lose apart from the world title. Great boxing films work on the premise that the boxer is the underdog and that they are trying to better their life through their skills with their fists. Unfortunately Creed II doesn't really have that going for its protagonist but instead has it for its antagonist.
But don't get me wrong theres still a lot to like about Creed II. Michael B. Jordan follows impressive form from Black Panther with another great performance. Also it always puts a smile on my face to see the great Sylvester Stallone on the silver screen, this time with his guttural sage advice and support for Johnson.
The boxing sequences are superbly choreographed and spill onto the screen at a fast and furious pace causing you to winch at every punch that hits its target.
While you may end up rooting for the 'baddie' more than Creed himself, theres still plenty to like here.