Creed II manages to bring back some memories of the Rocky franchise and the Cold War fight between Russia and the US, but ultimately fails to bring the hype or the emotion needed to be compared favourably to its predecessors and even live up to the new energy that Creed brought.
All the brooding power and entitlement that were painstakingly built up in Creed should be on show here in Creed II but are disappointingly missing, lacking a clear vision and placing Adonis into the central role, instead spreading the film too thinly over the many moving parts and not giving it, or him, the time needed or deserved.
Creed II suffers from being emotionally flat as Adonis and Bianca have morphed from the deep, fully-formed, interesting characters they were into shallow show-ponies here, only briefly glimpsing the trials and issues that should be making up the emotional core of this film. Glossing over the heart that they showed in the original film leaves the centre of Creed II requiring something else to fill it and, in this case, it is the lesser but more emotional story of the father-son team up of Ivan and Viktor Drago that actually had something more about it. And with Viktor only saying around 20 words in the entire film he still managed to bring more emotion than his opponent.
The fight sequences also felt uninspired and formulaic, falling back into the rhythm of the Rocky franchise films rather than bringing it up to date like Creed did. Even the variety of action was limited as hook after hook was thrown with hardly any tactical wrangling shown in the ring even if it was talked about in their respective corners. Being a bit of a boxing enthusiast in my past this annoyed me and detracted from my overall enjoyment of the film. Rehashing the themes of Rocky IV with the formula of Rocky III, just took it away from the new era that had been brought in with Creed. Instead we are back in the realm of fantasy boxing, a distant journey from the realism and passion shown in Adonis’ first outing. That being said, the training montage, as is necessary, looked great and brought more power and impetus than the fights combined but without that adrenaline-inducing soundtrack to accompany the action it failed to take it to the next level.
It appears that Michael B Jordan saved the performance that should have been in Creed II for Ryan Coogler in his role as Eric Killmonger in Black Panther. Jordan does a decent job of it, but it lacks the energy of his first outing and suffers from a less engaging script. Tessa Thompson once again does a good enough job but her role again has been lessened from her previous outing. Sylvester Stallone as the Godfather of Philadelphian boxing, Rocky, is a wealth of boxing knowledge and stifled emotion but is limited in his effectiveness by being slightly sidelined through the middle section of the film.
I might be in the minority on this one but Creed II lacked the heart and soul, and especially the fight choreography and variety, that I would have expected to see in a sequel to the impressive Creed.