Reel Reviews | Creed II

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

The sins of the father fall on their sons, in Creed II.

It’s been years since Adonis Johnson-Creed (Michael B. Jordan) fought “Pretty” Ricky Conlan and he is on a six-fight win streak that has culminated with the acquisition of the WBC Light Heavyweight title.   With the music career of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) exploding and his success, Adonis figures now is the time to propose.  Meanwhile, underground and unknown, Victor Drago (Florian ‘Big Nasty’ Munteanu) is training and fighting under the tutelage of his father Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) the man who killed Adonis’ father in the ring just 30 years earlier.  Seeing an opportunity, promoter Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby) stokes the fire and desire of the two Dragos and draws up a challenge for the new champ.  Haunted by the ghost of his father’s legacy and his “uncle” Rocky Balboa’s (Sylvester Stallone) decision, Adonis accepts the challenge put to him by Victor Drago.

Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther) returns to the role of Adonis Creed and his star never looked brighter.  Because it is, in essence, a fight movie, Jordan spends most of his time strutting and struggling bare-chested but it is in his moments where he interacts with others that we see his ability to summon his emotions and connect with his character in a way reminiscent of Brando.  Jordan simply is Adonis Creed.  Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone and all the usual characters from the last movie return to their roles with the addition of Lundgren and Munteanu and a couple of other surprise performances from people in the Rocky historical canon.

Steven Caple Jr. (The Land, A Different Tree) directs the sequel to the super successful heir to the Rocky legacy, Creed written by Cheo Hodari Coker (Luke Cage, Southland, Notorious) and Sascha Penn based on characters created by Ryan Coogler.  With a pedigree of this depth and breadth, Caple is handed the keys to the kingdom and he does not disappoint.  While the fight scenes may lack some shred of the intense dramatic choreography of its predecessor, the character development, plot progression and pacing of Creed II are superior in every manner.

Featuring a complex storyline that compares, contrasts, and weaves together the lives of the family Creed and the family Drago, Coker and Penn create a film that not only addresses the fight but the motivations to fight.  Victor Drago seems to fight to regain his family and claim his father’s destiny.  Adonis Creed seems to fight to achieve the status of his level of success of his father and maybe to avenge his father’s death.  It is not until each fighter comes to grips with the true nature of their reason to fight that they find their ability to truly fight.  The themes of generational inheritance, reconciliation, and reclamation are as prominent in this film as they are in Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Puzo’s Godfather movies and just as well delivered.

Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality, Creed II is a deep psychological and metaphysical journey for the viewers which is much more than can be expected for a boxing movie.

Grade:  A