Chad Reviews "Creed II"
I remember “Rocky” being one of the first films I was taken to as a young lad to our local drive-in and being terrified because I was confusing it with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Imagine my relief and surprise when I found out it was some movie about a local Philly schlub trying to make it as a professional boxer, and the film series became a worldwide phenomenon with a number of sequels and almost as many imitators that followed in its wake. When the series petered out in 1990 with “Rocky V” and then cleverly rebooted as “Rocky Balboa” in 2006, the groundwork was laid for the series to shift its focus from Rocky himself to the illegitimate son of his late close friend and former opponent, Apollo Creed. After he agrees to train Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, the young man begins to establish himself as a true contender, and worthy successor to carry on the name and legacy of “Creed” in 2015. Now, we continue Adonis’ story, with “Creed II”.
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) are living the American dream much like his mentor Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) did in his heyday. As fate would have it, the specters of both Rocky and Adonis’ past come back to haunt them as Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the boxer who killed Adonis’ father and then was subsequently beaten by Rocky in the Soviet Union and has begun training his own son in Viktor (Florian Munteanu) as his own protégé to defeat and destroy Adonis as his own means of redemption in the eyes of his country. When a slimy promoter named Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby) arranges the fight, Adonis sees this as a way to avenge his father’s death as Ivan seeks to destroy Rocky’s legacy while reclaiming and cementing his own through Viktor.
While there is quite a bit to enjoy about this film, I was a slightly disappointed with it overall as it seemed like a retread of the films that came before it. While it does have moments that had me wincing during some particularly brutal blows during matches and cheering during the moments when the classic Rocky theme kicks in, it just has that nagging feeling of “been there, done that” with an incredibly predictable story that we’ve seen over and over again. The cast is rock solid all around, although Stallone isn’t given nearly as much to do this time around (a major letdown for me personally) given the stellar performance he gave in the previous chapter, and while this franchise still has something left in the tank with enough heart and humanity to keep the characters fresh and interesting, it will take a better story for this franchise could remain a championship level contender for years to come.