Movie Review: “Creed II”
Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has become world champion. He is at the prime of his career, but achieved the title by beating a champion who was not at the prime of his. Thus, Adonis does not feel entirely deserving of the title. Not long after winning the championship, a Russion boxer by the name of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) comes forward as wanting to fight Adonis for the championship.
Viktor is massive, he is powerful, and he is a skilled boxer, but he is much more than just a formidable opponent for Adonis. Viktor is the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the boxer responsible for killing Adonis’ father in a boxing match. This is a very personal match for Adonis, who seeks to redeem his family name by defeating the son of his father’s killer. Unfortunately, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) cannot support Adonis taking this challenge, so Adonis may have to go into this fight without the boxing legend in his corner.
The Pros & Cons
Creed & Drago (+10pts)
Predictable & The Second Act (-6pts)
The Cast (+8pts)
The Boxing (+6pts)
Pro: Creed & Drago (+10pts)
I really enjoyed the storyline and the tension between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago. Both are the son of an iconic boxer, but their fathers have very different reputations. I liked seeing how Ivan’s loss to Rocky impacted his life and enjoyed seeing Viktor’s drive to redeem his family name. Adonis also wants to redeem his family name. While his father is well respected, Adonis’ family name is stained by the tragedy that befell his father at the hands of Ivan Drago.
Both characters are on a path of redemption, both characters want to make a name for themselves, and both characters want to make their fathers proud. Adonis is the obvious protagonist (because he is the main character) and the obvious underdog (because of the size difference between him and his opponent), but the filmmakers did a great job of blurring the line between protagonist and antagonist. There are scenes where I was rooting for Adonis, and there are scenes where I thought Adonis was either cocky or a jerk, which made me root for Viktor. I liked how similar their stories were, I liked how personal the feud was, and I liked how the filmmakers blurred the line between good guy and bad guy (it made this story a lot more interesting).
Con: Predictable & The Second Act (-6pts)
There have been seven movies in this boxing movie franchise alone, so the filmmakers need to start doing more with these stories if they want to keep things interesting. It was too easy to see where this movie was going. As soon as I learned that the match between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago would take place at the end of the first act of this story, it was way too easy to predict how the rest of the story would play out. It went exactly as I expected, but it also slowed way down at the beginning of the second act. I want to avoid spoilers, so I do not want to get into the details of what was happening in the second act, but the movie felt really slow, and uneventful in this section. Overall, the story was really predictable and got a little boring. The movie started really strong, but lost a lot of momentum at the beginning of the second act.
Pro: The Cast (+8pts)
There really was not a single weak link in this cast. Everyone, from Michael B. Jordan to Florian Munteanu, gave strong performances in this movie. The movie focuses on the death of Apollo Creed, and what impact that had on Adonis and Rocky. The movie also focuses on Ivan Drago’s loss to Rocky, and what impact that had on the lives of Ivan and Viktor. Even Bianca deals with a lot. There is a lot of heavy material in this movie, and each of the actors did a great job in their respective roles. Adonis obviously gets the most focus, so Michael B. Jordan deserves a ton of praise for his performance, but every actor played their respective parts well.
Con: Training (-5pts)
I thought the training sequence was missing something. It did not feel all that inspiring, and (afterwards) it did not feel like Adonis was any more prepared than he was beforehand. I liked the location, but it felt like the filmmakers rushed through this section of the movie. It was as if the filmmakers knew that the movie was long already, so tried to get through the training sequence as fast as possible.
The problem with this, is that Adonis’ performance in the final fight feels unjustified. It did not feel like Adonis overcame anything, but he is somehow miraculously more prepared than he was before. I get that we have had seven movies already in this franchise, but this was a weird section of the movie to breeze through. With the second act being as drawn out and uneventful as it was, the filmmakers really should have spread out the training sequence to show Adonis’ growth and make the climax of the film more impactful. Instead, the climax feels unjustified.
Pro: The Boxing (+6pts)
The boxing in this movie was suspenseful, even though I had a pretty good idea how the matches would go. Viktor Drago had an intimidating presence due to how much larger he was than Adonis Creed. With that in mind, each hit (that Viktor landed) felt like a big hit. Adonis had to endure a lot of damage, while inflicting as much as possible to someone much larger than him. Every hit felt brutal, which made the final match feel like all out war. The intensity increased with every round and, even though I could predict the winner, the matches kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
Con: Bianca (-2pts)
I thought Bianca's musical career was pointless and underdeveloped in the first movie, and it was worse here. This is not her story. She is a supporting character in Adonis Creed’s story, so why so do we care about her musical career? I certainly do not, and it was made worse by the fact that the music is not even very good. You know when you see a bad painting, that the artist defends by saying “it is art”? That is what Bianca’s music makes me think of. It all just felt like the filmmakers were trying to force the character into doing something other than just sitting at home, but they did not care about what she was doing. They did not give her any development in relation to her career, so the whole thing just felt like a waste of screentime.
Grade: B+ (86pts)
I liked Creed II, but it definitely was not great. We have seen this story countless times before, and countless times in this very franchise, so the movie was very predictable. If the filmmakers want to make more of these movies, they really need to start switching up the format, as it was just too easy to see where this story was headed. This is then mixed with an unnecessary musical career from a side character (that gets no development or focus), a lackluster training montage, and a slow second act. The result is a fairy cookie-cutter boxing movie, but it certainly had its redeeming qualities.
Every single member of the cast gave a strong performance. There was a lot of heavy material to go around, and there just was not a single weak link in the cast. The mirrored story arcs between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago was compelling, and the boxing matches were brutal in the most suspenseful way. It is far from a perfect movie, but it was pretty good and had me entertained through most of the film’s runtime.