'Creed II' not quite a knockout
In 2018, The Incredibles, made a comeback, and Mary Poppins is set to make a return this Christmas. These long-awaited sequels have been a mixed bag of varying quality. On one hand, you have your Blade Runner 2049, and Halloween that feel purposeful. On the other - a mess like Independence Day 2, unable to recapture the magic. In 2015, though, none did this better than Creed, a film which perfectly balanced its modern-day influences, with its older, more familiar elements.
The goodwill built by the original Creed meant I walked into Creed II, with high hopes. I've had a franchise of Rocky films to compare it to, and Adonis Creed proved himself a character worthy of attention. But could he maintain a legacy? Would his films be able to manifest themselves as ironically as the previous films did? It's no surprise then that the film is about a boxer struggling to deal with the pressures of building a legacy. That's why, at the height of his career as the heavyweight champion of the world, he decides to take on the fight of his life - against Viktor Drago, the son of the man who famously killed Adonis' father in the ring 30 years prior.
Michael B. Jordan, once again, takes care of business as Adonis Creed - I'm not talking about just in the ring, he does that just fine. His performance is what struck me the most - you watch as he comes to terms with who he is, and continues the search for an identity of his own that began in the first film. The character work is at its best in this film, as even the 'villains' - the Dragos - are given heartfelt motivations.
As I write this, I realise there's so much to Creed II that I liked. It's characters remain impressively thought out, but what's hindering the film is how rote it all feels. The character's conflict is so tied to the story, and the story is as formulaic as any Rocky film has ever been. At a certain point, you find yourself simply going through the motions, even able to judge plot developments by how much time is left. It's a letdown for a good movie that had all the makings of greatness, but, ultimately, is let down by an overly predictable narrative.