Monday 17 June 2019

Creed II ★★★☆☆

Remember in 2015 when Creed came out? Everybody, including me, wanted it to f*** off so badly. We did not need to see Rocky again, and as that was to be his 8th outing, it reeked of desperation from ol’ Sly Stallone. But then it came out and was actually bloody good. Sly took a backseat to let Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed became a new icon for the sports film genre while Rocky acted like a muscly old Yoda. It was only a matter of time before we were force-fed a sequel, and that day came in 2018.

Creed II is better than you expect but doesn’t hit the heights of the first. That’s to be expected really, as Creed had the element of surprise. Nobody expected quality from it. But that’s not to say Creed II is a failure. The film follows a fight over 33 years in the making, as Adonis Creed meets a new adversary in the ring: Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago, the powerful athlete who killed Adonis' father Apollo Creed. For fans of the Rocky series, this is a pretty iconic and historic plotline to continue now, all these years later. 

But it does feel a little lazy – the film’s narrative is pretty reliant on a “hey, remember that?” approach. Nothing about it feels particularly fresh. The strict adherence to the franchise formula gives it a very much cookie cutter approach where each plot beat can be seen coming a mile off, but I guess that applies to every Rocky film. Every sports film, even. But it’s a time-tested approach that resonates with all ages and all generations, so I guess it falls under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.

The film certainly looks and sounds like one of quality. It’s a stylish and solid piece of filmmaking throughout with some terrific performances and some good direction from Stephen Caple Jr who picks up the duty from Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler who serves as an executive producer here. But being the 9th film in the series, the whole thing just feels a little past its sell-by-date. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the film, but there’s nothing to make it feel particularly remarkable either.

On the whole, Creed II isn’t going to win over any newcomers to the Rocky saga. This is strictly fan-service to people who have been following the characters for a while – the central plot of this film, the rivalry between Drago and Creed, is pretty meaningless to anyone who hasn’t spent time with Rocky and his gang before. But hey, these sporting movies are comfort food, aren’t they? For the most part, they’re mindless background entertainment at the end of a long day. If that’s what you want from Creed II, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all. 3/5 

Sam Love

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