HOLLYWOOD—The boxing sequel that fans of the “Rocky” franchise have been eagerly waiting for, “Creed II” has arrived. Three years after the 2015 hit, audiences are being treated to Michael B. Jordan going into the ring with Florian Munteanu in a battle for the ages: Adonis Creed’s son battling Ivan Drago’s son. Yes, I love a great boxing movie because they tend to have a level of heart at its core, and this movie is no different.
However, “Creed II” does not manage to capture the same magic and near Oscar caliber narrative as the first installment. There are some pacing issues in the middle of the film that may leave fans of the “Rocky” franchise and the film’s predecessor wanting a bit more. Not to mention, those who are not fans of first flick may feel a bit out of the loop. That may be a direct result of the absence of Ryan Coogler who put his touch as the director and writer of the first flick, only serving as an executive producer this time around.
The audience finds Donnie (Michael B. Jordan) going toe-to-toe with the son of man who killed his father in the boxing ring. Yes, as much as this is a tale between Donnie and Viktor, this is more a battle between Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Ivan (Dolph Lundgren). I will admit it was actually a fascinating twist in a way on the narrative.
Two mortal enemies vicariously living through their protégés; it’s like parent using their child to live out their dreams (notable in Ivan’s case), with Balboa attempting to take on the father role for Donnie who seems to be unaware how dangerous his opponent can truly be in the ring considering the upbringing by his father. Some might argue the movie is a man’s flick, and I wouldn’t completely go that far, there is plenty of eye candy for the ladies, but a notable story point is the relationship between Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Donnie.
Both are about to become parents; it’s pivotal for both Bianca and Donnie who want to have a better upbringing for their child than what they had. It’s a very emotional button in the film that I will not spoil for the audience, but it is certain to strike a few people in the heart. The relationship between Viktor and Drago is interesting as well because this young man finds himself living in the shadow of his father and even if he wanted to escape it, it seems nearly impossible without being linked to his father in some fashion.
For Viktor, the battle to take down Donnie is not just about removing himself from his father’s shadow; it’s an opportunity for him to revitalize the family’s name in the process. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders and one misstep could cause everything to come crashing down. “Creed II” has some notable cameos from several boxing greats that is fun to witness on the big screen, in addition to a fitting cast with Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Russell Hornsby Brigitte Nielsen and Milo Ventimiglia.
The big climatic fight does not disappoint between Viktor and Donnie and lives up to the hype that the audience has come to expect from the teasers. Jordan brings the same level of depth to the character he created in the first flick, without a bit more emotion as a direct result of becoming a father. “Creed II” gives the audience what they’ve come to see: a boxing match with plenty of heart and drama along the way. It is indeed a crowd-pleaser, not as sharp and original as its predecessor, but it works.