By Daniel Paiz
“Ricky Conlan has won the fight, but Adonis Creed has won the night…” -Max Kellerman’s voice echoes as Creed ends with Adonis and Rocky Balboa walking up the famous Philadelphia staircase.
Creed II is packed full of storylines
The first Creed is largely about figuring out who you are. In Creed II, it’s a continuation of that, but it also shifts into what each character is fighting for.
There might only be a handful of actual fights in this highly anticipated sequel, but every major character is fighting a different opponent, and the storyline here is full of things to unpack.
Adonis Johnson/Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) must navigate their relationship while Adonis continues to pursue the title. Adonis must also figure out what he’s fighting for in the first place (something he’ll struggle with more than you’d expect).
Bianca has a lot to worry about in this film. Figuring out how to reach Adonis after one particular fight paints the picture of what toll these fights take on a fighter; the physical toll does not begin to match the mental one.
These two also have another surprise that will complicate things about a quarter of the way into the movie.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) continues to struggle with past decisions inside and out of the ring. The interactions between Adonis and Rocky go up and down as Rocky worries about the fate of Adonis being the same one Apollo met.
Speaking of family issues, the Dragos are back to take their shot at redemption.
The beginning of the film nails just how difficult things have been for Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), who are living in the Ukraine in less than ideal conditions.
The loss to Balboa all those years ago has stoked Ivan into relentlessly training his son into becoming the most physically imposing heavyweight boxer in the world. This lust for revenge has fostered a hateful training regimen that shows no love between father and son.
So many callbacks…
If you recently watched the first Creed film prior to going to see the sequel (which I highly recommend), there are so many callbacks. Not just to the first film in this new series, but also to the Rocky series.
Because callbacks are fun to find on your own, no specific ones will be mentioned here.
A good number of them will simply be scenes from previous films put in a new light for the current storyline, but that’s as far as the hints will go for this section.
Ludwig Göransson just can’t be stopped when it comes to putting together music for movies. The Childish Gambino collaborator puts together another plethora of tracks that matches every mood the comes up in this film.
Add to that the impact that Mike Will Made It has by producing a number of songs for this film? It’s arguably even better than the first Creed soundtrack.
The music chosen for the fighter walk-outs is still my favorite part of this film, as Jaden Smith’s Icon perfectly encapsulates just how much Adonis is feeling himself in this part of the film.
The surprise track Adonis has is not what you’d expect for the last fight of the film, but it shows the growth and understanding he’s gained throughout the film up until this point.
Biggest lesson Creed II delivers
It can’t be overstated, but redemption is the name of the game for Creed II. Adonis, Rocky, Ivan Drago—all three of these characters have the most to learn throughout this film, and all three finally get what it is that they need to change.
There are moments when you want to shake Adonis by the shoulders to make him think about what he’s doing, but he finally seems to get it.
Ivan Drago is a character you’re supposed to root against, but Ivan and Viktor both learn the past doesn’t need to repeat itself. It almost makes you want to see what happens to the Dragos? That’s something I didn’t see coming.
Lastly, Ryan Coogler doesn’t direct this sequel (though he does get an Executive Producer credit).
Steven Caple Jr. takes over directing and while there is something missing without Coogler at the helm, Caple Jr. does a really good job of weaving all of these different storylines together in a very cohesive manner.
This sequel doesn’t disappoint and absolutely lives up to the original.