Creed II is one of the best examples I’ve seen in a while to prove the proposition that my enjoyment of a film isn’t always directly proportional to its quality. Compared to Ryan Coogler’s predecessor, Steven Caple Jr’s addition to the long-running Rocky/Creed franchise leaves a bit to be desired.
The humanistic, authentic storytelling of the first gives way to a more programmatic, predictable story arc – particularly through the second act – centring on the rivalry between Donnie (Michael B. Jordan) and Ivan Drago’s (Dolph Lundgren’s) son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu). The filmmaking is consistently competent, but lacks the spark and creativity of Coogler’s film.
And yet – it all, honestly, just works. Perhaps its testament to the four decades of character building behind these characters, but the emotional family moments brought tears to my eyes and the boxing showdowns had me ducking and weaving in my chair like I was in the ring. Full credit goes to the supremely talented cast Caple Jr is working with, but I think the real success of Creed II is its respect for the films it follows. This is an underdog story with heart, and I ended up liking it just as much as Coogler’s Creed.