Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Running Time: 130 mins
Creed II is an American film and the sequel to Creed. After taking the World Heavyweight belt, Adonis Creed finds his title challenged by Viktor Drago, the son of the man who killed his father in the ring over 30 years ago.
The Rocky series is a piece of cinematic legend nowadays, but the fact that Creed, both with its first film and now this sequel, is able to make use of the Rocky lore and still establish itself as something fresh and far more powerful is something truly incredible. Once again surpassing the typical expectations of a sports movie, Creed II proves a deeply engrossing and often powerfully moving watch, featuring riveting character portrayals alongside a crowd-pleasing and immensely entertaining sports plot, all of which makes for a film that had me utterly enthralled from beginning to end.
The first Creed movie was a real surprise. Coming almost forty years after Rocky, the film stunningly gave a new life to Sylvester Stallone’s legendary character with a moving portrayal of an aged Rocky Balboa, all the while repurposing the original story for modern day America with the rise of Adonis Creed to glory under Rocky’s tutelage.
It wasn’t just a boxing movie, but a real drama, and I’m stunned by how Creed II manages to keep that going second time round. While it at times may come across as a little less poignant than the first film, it’s a truly engrossing piece that, as well as featuring brilliant sports thrills throughout, really impresses with its dramatic depth and character development.
Above all, with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and his partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson) deepening their relationship after the events of the first film, the film gives a beautiful portrayal of a sort of second coming-of-age, as we see both Adonis and Bianca grow into strong personalities with immense responsibilities, and while they still face struggle with the intensity of Creed’s boxing career, their relationship remains at the very heart of the whole story.
In that, Creed II is one of the most emotionally elegant sports movies I’ve ever seen, and that’s what sets it apart from the crowd. Much like the first film and Rocky back in 1976, this isn’t a movie that’s just about winning and losing, but rather everything that goes into the world of boxing, and the people behind the big show, something that proves utterly fascinating and moving to follow once again.
Furthermore, the way that the film makes use of the lore from the Rocky franchise of the 70s and 80s is even more impressive, with the return of the Drago family to the scene to really up the stakes for the next stage in Creed’s career.
It’s a genuine and pitch-perfect reference to the old days, and rather than acting as simple fan service, there is a very pleasing connection that runs deep through this movie, with the long history going back over three decades lending real dramatic depth to every character and every fight here.
And yet, while the film brilliantly uses the history of Rocky, it still manages to establish itself as its own piece, with the centrepiece being Adonis and Bianca’s relationship, and while the appearance of Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, as well as some brilliant nods back to the original film, are immensely satisfying, this is first and foremost a Creed movie – and not simply a Rocky spin-off.
Finally, while the film’s strongest suit is undoubtedly its dramatic depth, there’s no forgetting the thrills of its boxing sequences, which are once again directed and shot in spectacular fashion. There might not be another big one-shot take like Ryan Coogler stunningly pulled off in the first film, but each and every one of the fight sequences here are both spectacular to watch and just as important a part of the story as a whole.
Overall, then, I was once again stunned by Creed II. Its predecessor was a brilliant, fresh piece of filmmaking, and the fact that this sequel manages to pull that off once again is truly incredible. Not only a great sports movie, but a straight-out brilliant drama filled with emotion throughout, Creed II is a fantastic watch from beginning to end, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.2.