Please let “Creed III” start with Adonis Creed fighting John Cena for charity.
Yes, that’s a joke, but one can’t help but feel the “Creed” saga is on the same trajectory as the original “Rocky” series. In all fairness, though, the latest picture in the Balboa Cinematic Universe is pretty good.
“Creed II” starts with Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) reaching the pinnacle of the boxing world. On a hot winning streak, Creed gets into a title fight and wins the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. Along with his success, Adonis is also settling down with his fiancé Bianca (Tessa Thompson). As months pass after the fight, Creed finds out that Bianca is pregnant.
Meanwhile, Russian boxer Viktor (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), is on the rise with a winning streak of his own. In the shadow of the events of “Rocky IV,” where Ivan killed Adonis’ father Apollo in a fight and later lost to Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Viktor challenges Adonis to a match for the belt and his family name.
It is true that “Creed II” does have a rather familiar formula. The picture has similar tropes and many of the same progressions as other sports movies and especially other flicks in the “Rocky” series. Additionally, the movie happens to retread some of the same ground as the first “Creed,” mainly when it comes to Adonis’ relationship with Rocky.
With that said, the film is still quite entertaining when it comes to being a sports movie. The training moments are energetic while the fights are well shot and choreographed. There are some really exciting sequences featured here and they help make the movie worth checking out.
However, the film’s focus on boxing isn’t actually the most compelling part of “Creed II.” Instead, the picture really hits its stride when it comes to the relationship between Adonis and Bianca, and Adonis’ character development. This is especially well done, as it shows Adonis’ anxiety about becoming a father and his uncertainty on whether his child will have hearing difficulty like Bianca does.
When it comes to which scenes are most compelling, it’s not even a contest. The moments around Adonis’ family are wonderfully engaging and have a lot of heart. There’s one moment in particular where Adonis’ newborn is having a hearing test and it can put an audience more on the edge of their seat than one of the film’s boxing rounds.
Like its predecessor, a lot of this works thanks the lead performance from Jordan. He’s a solid actor and is great at portraying the emotions of this character, who does have many layers. There’s Adonis the fighter, Adonis the student, the father, and more. Jordan is nicely able to believably portray those complexities.
Also giving a very good performance in the film is Thompson as Bianca. The character is always in Creed’s corner, but she does have her moments of hesitation. Thompson deserves a lot of credit for her portrayal here in how she captures those moments, and her chemistry with Jordan is great.
Stallone deserves credit, too. This is the eighth “Rocky” movie, and just as he showed in the first “Creed,” he still has it. His performance this time around might not get him the amount of award recognition as the first “Creed” did, but he’s still an important factor here, and maintains Rocky’s likable nature and personality.
There’s a lot to like about “Creed II.” The acting works, the boxing elements are entertaining and the story of Adonis’ family is engaging. It falls into familiar territory as a sports movie, but still warrants a 4.0 out of 5.