Written by Wayne Townsend
The 7th iteration (8th picture) of the Rocky saga is not just a good boxing movie, but a good film. As far as reboots go, Creed was not only clever but credible. Filled with all the ethos that made Rocky Balboa the most famous (fictional) boxer in the history of the sport, it explored, in a deeper than usual way, the complexities of living in the shadows of famous fathers. For Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan it was the legacy left by his father, Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers in the first four installments. For Viktor Drago, played by Florian Munteanu, it’s trying to please his father, Ivan Drago, who is blinded by revenge for the loss at the hands of Rocky in Rocky IV. Ivan lost everything as a result of his defeat, honor, support of his country, even his wife, who left both Ivan and Viktor. Brigette Nielson returns as Drago’s ex-wife with a disdain for both men. Adonis is plagued by the omnipresence of the father he never knew. Driven to ‘right the wrong’ of his father’s death at the hands of Ivan, he signs to fight the larger, stronger Viktor much to the chagrin of his adopted uncle, Rocky. During his win on a technicality, Adonis suffers a brutal beating, and as a result, is haunted by the reason he took the fight in the first place. Newly married he becomes a father himself as he struggles with finding his own identity and if he should challenge Viktor to a rematch. In Russia, Viktor and Ivan are the toast of the Russian elite and the return to favor in this circle becomes the driving force for Ivan. As Viktor sees through this pretention, he implores his father to see the same. As his pleas fall on death ears, the conflicted Viktor carries on as the dutiful son and continues to be the instrument of his father’s rage.
Creed II co-written by Stallone, is a return to what made the first film a journey of self-discovery and not just a sports movie. What makes Rocky resonate with the fans is the choice of the sport of boxing, as someone said, “you play sports, in boxing you fight.” The fight is not just with your opponent, but the fight within oneself. Jordan captures this, and the chemistry between him and Tessa Thompson, who plays Bianca Taylor, his future wife, is reminiscent of that between Stallone and Talia Shire, Adrian of the first five Rocky’s. The scenes between them cover most of the emotional angst Adonis faced that is outside of his life as a fighter. Creed II has a scene were Rocky tells Adonis, “this is your time now.” After two successful films, fans should agree. Stallone passes the torch to the competent hands of Jordan, and the saga created way back in the olden days of 1976 of a fighter overcoming incredible odds, should continue.