I must admit it, even though Ryan Coogler gave Steven Caple Jr. a glowing nod, when it was revealed the latter would take the reins and direct the sequel of the 2015 blockbuster I was far from ecstatic and scared “Creed 2” would miss the strong emotional elements that Coogler (a former social worker) so expertly weaves into his stories. But boy was I wrong. Caple’s lense captures a tale of revenge, loss and triumph with a powerfully poignant punch (no pun intended) that will leave audiences, especially fans of the series, more than well satisfied.
In the film, Adonis Creed has found success as reigning heavyweight champion and focuses on building his life and a new family with Bianca (Tessa Thompson). But his will and ability are tested when a money hungry promoter Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby) arranges the fight of the century between Adonis and Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu in his acting début) – son of Rocky’s nemesis, and killer of Adonis’ father (Apollo Creed), Ivan Drago (with Dolph Lundgren reprising his role from Rocky IV).
Unlike Rocky IV and updated to 2018, we don’t have the xenophobic view of Russia in this film (although I don’t know what’s scarier, the Rocky IV viewpoint or our current political climate but I digress), and Viktor and Ivan’s story arc is given appropriate attention (check out the Ivan Drago featurette below).
The chemistry between Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson’s characters is still magic and further illuminated by the challenges they are both presented in the story.
There are also a couple of really great cameos, including one that left fans of a popular NBC show swooning and applauding (okay, okay, no spoilers).
But I must say this, it appears that Rocky passes a symbolic torch to Adonis which was bittersweet to watch. I don’t know what this means for the series, or if we may not see Rocky in a third film. But I do know that, though it’s hard to imagine a Rocky based movie without Sylvester Stallone, I wouldn’t be mad if this is his last. If it were left up to the film’s end, it would be a satisfying and fulfilling send off.
In sum, I think the film is highly entertaining, albeit a little formulaic – y’all let me know if anyone else has “Living In America” flashbacks with Adonis’s entrance for the first fight! But fans already know what we’re coming for and this movie provides it and then some – enough to create and delight new fans (no need to watch any prequels, but who hasn’t at least seen the first CREED!).
With a PG-13 rating, this is the film to take the teens and older to this Thanksgiving. I rate CREED 2 three and a half beats on the MMTrometer.
CREED 2 opens nationwide on November 21 (Run time 128 minutes).
Until next thought, Thomasena