What do you fight for? That’s the question that Creed 2 asks in a film that is shaped by emotional drama and pound for pound action as Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) pushes forward to cement his own legacy and face down the demons of his past.
Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed (Jordan). 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 is worth fighting for, and discover that nothing is more important than family.
Creed 2 was the sequel we’ve long been waiting for and director Steven Caple Jr. steps up to the fight. Set three years post Creed, Creed 2 picks up with Adonis as a solid contender for the Heavyweight title with everything to win. But after gaining the belt things get interesting and the old adage ‘that the wolf on the hill is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill’ suddenly rings true and that’s exactly where Creed 2 takes us. Wherein Creed we were watching the Heroes Journey playing out, here in Creed 2 we’re watching what comes next and how Adonis has to face new challenges when he suddenly has everything to lose.
Caple Jr. really focuses on the interior of his characters in Creed 2 and through the film’s most heartbreaking moments you see Adonis, a proud, strong fighter at his most vulnerable. For me Creed 2 is an exploration of what happens when you take the character of the hero apart, dissect it, retool it and put it back together. By the time of the eventual final showdown between Adonis and Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), you’re looking at a completely different man and it’s an interesting route to take. If I were to liken Creed 2 to any of the previous Rocky films I’d have to place it in context to Rocky 3 as it follows a similarly redemptive tale and Adonis has to return to the basics and get truly tough again to overcome an immense obstacle in front of him. The drama punches hard in Creed 2 and Caple Jr. is definitely the one to thank for it.
Since Creed Michael B. Jordan has established himself as a legitimate A-list star, but his work ethic and commitment to the character of Adonis Creed still remains here and the result is an exceptional performance on Jordan’s behalf. It’s always interesting when an actor takes on a character for a second act and here we get to see a different side of Adonis, as husband and father, and a man who has other more important responsibilities placed upon him rather than just winning the belt. His is an interesting performance here and as Adonis goes through his redemptive journey you see the character at his most emotionally raw, and this is only amplified by his new position as a father and trying to be there for his child in the way that his own father, Apollo Creed, couldn’t be there for him. In addition to the emotional power of his performance, Jordan is also a beast in the ring and lets just say he’s shredded to the core and his mission to get truly tough again will leave you feeling pumped.
Again providing back-up in Creed 2 is the one and only Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, the former heavyweight champ who has become a godfather of sorts to Adonis. Like the first film Rocky is again a man caught in time and stuck in a life he no longer understands. Like Jordan, Stallone is equally raw in his performance and as Adonis is trying to learn what it means to be a father, Rocky is struggling to reconnect with his own son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia). Creed 2 is very much an exploration of fathers and sons and how they impact each others lives and in all the film’s central male characters you see this being played out. This thematic presence elevates the film above a mere popcorn blockbuster tale and it absolutely leaves you engaged.
Along with the return of Adonis and Rocky, Creed 2 also sees the return of the infamous Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) who killed Apollo Creed more than thirty-three years ago inside the ring, and now the former Russian heavy hitter is ready to come back with his equally intimidating son Viktor (Florian Munteanu). Wherein Rocky 4 Ivan Drago was this bigger than life giant, the man we meet now is a shell of his former self, abandoned by his country and the woman he loved, and determined to regain his former glory no matter the cost. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a performance for Lundgren and he excels up on screen as Ivan, as does Munteanu as his son Viktor and this relentlessness to retake the belt no matter what the cost presents a strained and very fractured relationship between father and son.
If you’re seeking to get your heart rate going then you’ve come to the right place with Creed 2….cause the action here is brutal. Both Jordan and Munteanu attack it with everything they’ve got and the intensity really shakes about the ring. The fights are bone crushing and when these two warriors enter the ring someone will leave broken. Like all good Rocky-Creed films there’s also the build-up to the actual fight and with a powerful score from Ludwig Goransson and ASAP Rocky and the atmosphere of the barren Californian desert, which is beautifully captured by cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, Adonis gets a lesson in what it means to be tough as he unearths his animal side once more. The film’s climatic fight is a full on war and the legacy of Creed/Drago is on the line here in an exhilarating match-up.
If Creed was about ‘who are you’ then Creed 2 is definitely related to ‘why do you fight?’ This existential question gives the film real substance and it’s an essential part of the make-up of any fighter. This is Caple Jr.’s focus throughout the film and each time Adonis steps into the ring he gains further understanding of why he fights, and with some hard lessons learnt and the pain that comes with them his full realization as to his life’s purpose is present in the climatic final battle with Drago.
If you’re seeking a solid TKO then Creed 2 is the film to give it to you. Packed out with raw emotion and some gnarly fight action, this film is a tremendously exciting next step in the Rocky-Creed mythos and cements the legacy of Adonis Creed and Michael B. Jordan as both character and actor who is truly one of the best around.
Image: Roadshow Films