Creed II: More Of A Light Jab Than A Haymaker
Without the finesse of Ryan Coogler, Creed II doesn’t have the power or stamina to be a true contender; however, for fans of the franchise, its time tested formula still manages to land a few solid blows.
Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordon). Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family's past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what's worth fighting for, and discover that nothing's more important than family.
Creed II falls into a hard sophomore slump and doesn’t really seem to congeal with the rest of the Rocky franchise. It has none of the vitality or immersive camerawork of its predecessor, and outside of its recycled narrative framework, it lacks the montages, feel and triumph of a Rocky film.
Its choice to callback Creed’s past is a smart move that naturally progresses the narrative, but the film doesn’t leverage any of the political aspects that elevated Rocky IV or utilize the Dragos to do anything meaningful outside of being the “bad guys.” At every opportunity to take an interesting risk, Creed II chooses to play it safe, throwing light jabs in place of haymakers and leaning all too heavily on fan service. It’s not entirely dead behind the eyes, but it definitely rings with a disappointing amount of hollowness.
Really, there wouldn’t be much to like without Tessa Thompson (who reprises her role as Bianca) and Michael B. Jordan front and center. The pair have such great chemistry together and feel like a tangible power couple. Any scene with the two of them together (like the proposal scene or bathroom scene) standout against the rest, and give Creed II a much needed pick-me-up.
If anything, this latest installment from the Rocky franchise proves that it should just lay down for the count if it’s not going to offer up anything new. Like Rocky says with this seeming innocuous bit of dialogue from Creed II, “A chunk of the past trying to be today; it doesn’t work.”
Recommendation: Fans of Nike ads, Fight Night, or the Rocky franchise, check this one out with low expectations.
Rating: 2 old man staredowns outta 5.
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