Creed II tries to give the father and son villains Ivan (who killed Adonis’ father Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies) and Viktor Drago (Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu) some depth before they are knocked out by big bout boxing cliches. Lundgren and Munteanu, being actors of limited range, are forced to share four emotions which are swapped out between them come big bout time to show some character depth and change: anger and wounded pride, bewilderment and rage.
The two are just a bad parent example (Rocky and Adonis being the flip side) of Creed II‘s incessant mirroring. Apollo Creed’s death and memory is the reflective event that generates all plot, emotion and change.
Michael B. Jordan is always a great actor and Sylvester Stallone is reliably believable and good in Rocky mode. Adonis’ and Rocky’s relationship develops a special emotional resonance when filtered through Apollo Creed memories and impetuses. Their story is more absorbing than Creed II’s routinely choreographed big bouts.
Director Steven Caple Jr. (taking over for Ryan Coogler who went on to do Black Panther) extracts every bit of pathos from Stallone and Jordan, trusting them to find the heart and reality in the formulaic beats of the story. Creed II is filled with that snappy, bickering, admiring supporting character spark that made even the average Rocky movies memorable.
Creed II is a good enough mid level Rocky and Creed sequel.
All photos and videos courtesy of MGM Studios.