Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) becomes the heavyweight champion with the help of legend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). But the celebrations cut short when Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago who killed Apollo Creed on the ring, challenges Donnie in the sequel directed by Steven Caple Jr.
How do you top 2015 critically acclaimed follow up to the Rocky film series? You can’t. But that doesn’t mean there is no sequel to make. The Rockys, and Creed too, are not about boxing. They never were. They are about life. And in Donnie’s case, life is just getting started. There’s plenty of room for more story to be told, and this one continues the story of Rocky’s ugly duckling: Rocky IV. Ryan Coogler did not return due to scheduling conflicts. Director Steven Caple Jr takes the lead for a sequel co-written by none other than Sylvester Stallone himself, who wrote all of the Rockys.
This one is all about Donnie. Rocky has surprisingly little presence this time around. In fact, the series takes a surprising turn when Donnie and Bianca leave Philly for sunny California, following the steps of Apollo Creed. The story focuses on Donnie building a legacy on his own. And the film builds his own legacy too, even though it keeps the traditional Rocky formula, by trying new things and making it more actual. For instance, the fights are more modern, more nervous. Exit the continuous shots and real-time. The fights are faster and have more impact. Although, keeping the formula makes the first two fights too predictable. Long story short, the film has few surprises under its belt, but is incredibly effective. It keeps the humor introduced in the previous one. Like I said, Creed is not about boxing, it’s about life. And we get to see hilarious situations in the life of Donnie and Bianca, sentimental ones and, also, dramatical ones. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film made bold choices to show that life isn’t always pretty.
Creed II is an overall success. Both as a film, and as a worthy sequel to both Creed and the Rockys.
Rocky has a small arc in this film, that ties to Rocky Balboa. I won’t talk about it that much because it would spoil it, but I’d like to point out that this makes perfect sense. Rocky has taught everything to Donnie at this point. He has a few lessons left, and he gives them here, but is almost done. If he continues appearing in further film, he might be doomed to be a side character in his own film series. And if there’s a Creed III, I think it might be wise to open the film on Donnie saying goodbye to Rocky who will, finally, rest in peace alongside beloved Adrian and long-time friend Paulie. Donnie has proved everything at this point, and the only thing left for him is how he will continue his boxing on his own (thing he attempted in this one but ultimately failed to succeed). In Rocky and Donnie’s last exchange in the film, Rocky looks at him and says “This is yours”, which I think means “I don’t have anything left to do here, this is your film series now.” Creed needs to go on without Rocky at his side.
Creed II is an overall success. Both as a film, and as a worthy sequel to both Creed and the Rockys. I can’t give it any more praise than that. It opens with Donnie at the height of his career, something Rocky only achieved in the 3rd film, and observed Rocky’s most important lesson from the 6th film; “It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” That has never been truer. The film also has some of the series’ greatest touching moments. I still dare you to leave the theater and not feeling an excessive motivation to achieve something great on your own. This is the power of the Rockys, and the Creeds. Go see it.