Summary: Adonis Creed takes on Victor Drago, son of Ivan Drago- the man who accidentally killed his father.
To date, Creed is the only Rocky movie I have seen. Not that I don’t like a good sports movie (I do!), I just haven’t had the time to commit myself. I’m too busy watching Succession. That being said, I realize I don’t have the emotional attachment to the Rocky character that others may aka the guy sitting next to me who was dabbing at his eyes. I realize that my rating is purely based on that of a sports movie and a sequel and it might be completely different if this were a series that I had grown up with, seen several times, and used the music as running noise.
Creed II is not as serious or thematically strong as its predecessor, cheesier, goofier (which is appropriate from what I’m told), much more conflated, and much more bulbous than its predecessor. It almost feels as if there was another hour or ninety minutes kicking around that got left on the cutting room floor.
The story is a long one that feels incredibly short- it takes place over the course of a year crammed into two hours and fifteen minutes. Fresh off a world championship, Creed is challenged by Viktor Drago. It’s a challenge that is instantly made personal as Viktor’s father is none other than Ivan Drago, the man who last fought Apollo in his fatal match. Viktor lays a pretty bad smackdown on Georges St. Pierre Creed, leaving him with a more-than-bruised ego as well as a pretty broken body and
GSP Creed has to rebuild himself from the ground up. Along the way, he is still coming to terms with his father’s legacy as well as moving through an engagement, a pregnant girlfriend (whose pregnancy gives us the passing of time), the baby’s birth, a recovered Rocky, and the struggle to separate what seems personal from what actually is personal. The real core of the movie is Creed trying to find his own footing now that he has a championship. He has to find himself outside of his father as well as his coach- basically everyone that added something to the Creed name before him.
The problem with the movie is that it doesn’t feel like a Creed movie. It feels like a Rocky movie. Where the Rocky character felt like a natural shadow in the first movie- affecting the story without overtaking it- he’s almost a little too centric here. This might have to do with Rocky writing a lot of the script himself and that might be great for all the Rocky fans out there, but this is coming off a Creed movie that felt like a whole new series and that’s what made it exciting in the first place.
There, my Rocky-centric nitpicking is done. Let’s get into the non-Rocky problems. I have some issues with these Dragos. The character of Viktor (played by Florian Munteanu- what is this, Moana!?) is fine. That character of Ivan is fine. The two of them add further fuel and thematic elements of a father/son relationship, which contrasts very sharply with Adonis and I think that was a smart move. But once Drago lady shows up, it just gets weird. The idea is that Viktor’s mother left shortly after Ivan lost because it was an embarrassment to the family and he was essentially shunned by society- and once Viktor starts winning, they are slowly let back in. Drago lady also begins to creep back in because… I mean, I assume she had a larger part in the Drago-Rocky installment but she has maybe three lines here and an absurd amount of screen time that seems shoehorned in and it became very distracting. It almost placed too much power (and blame) in the hands of the mother, rather than the central issues: Viktor trying to live up to his father’s expectations as well as Ivan’s burdens on Viktor. If they had kept the focus on Ivan/Viktor, I would have really enjoyed the Drago side of things.
Onto fight stuff. I didn’t feel that hyped (re: as hyped as I wanted to) during the desert training montage (just heaps and heals of cheese). And I love a good montage. BUT- I’ll say that the fight scenes made up for all that. The entrances are fire, as all entrances for sports entertainment should be. The fights themselves are pretty awesome in the same way Brienne vs. The Hound was- it’s gruesome to watch but incredibly well done and they really look like they are beating the snot out of each other. Michael B. Jordan as our title figure with Tessa Thompson as Bianca by his side is always a joy to watch, as they feel so natural as their individual characters as work as a unit. I’d like to see the third movie of this Creed character because I think this really is kind of the upwards start of his career. Actually, five Creed movies should do it. If we can end on Creed pulling a Lebron and retiring on a semi-high note to open up a nonprofit or a charter school, that would be cool. And maybe a “One Night Only, Back from Retirement” for the fifth one. Bring me three more!