Creed II, the eighth chapter of the Rocky saga (or the second chapter of the Creed saga) feels very familiar if you’re a fan of the series. There are familiar faces, familiar story ideas, and some clear nods to the earlier films. This is definitely a step back from the first Creed.
The movie feels longer than it’s 2 hour 10 minute running time, and I think it’s because it is trying tell a lot of stories, about a lot of characters. Ultimately it tries to say too much, and we have already heard so much of what it’s saying in earlier installments. In broad strokes Creed II is a remake of both Rocky III and Rocky IV, jammed together. In addition to revisiting both of those films, Creed II also tries to layer in a through line about fathers and sons. The result is a story that struggles for momentum, and feels too long. Even though Sylvester Stallone has been the constant in this series, the character Rocky is probably the one that could have been removed to help lighten the load a bit this time.
No surprise Michael B. Jordan gives a good performance, but his character is repeating a lot of his story from the last film. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad both give strong performances, but really aren’t used enough and feel wasted. Stallone is good, but he was better in past outings, his character is given nothing new, and really it just feels like the filmmakers were afraid to make this movie without Rocky in it. Florian Munteanu is good as the young Drago, but he only gets a few character scenes. The most surprising is Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago. He takes a character that was really just a living metaphor in his original appearance, very one dimensional, and fleshes it out into a believable role. Credit to the writing here as well. Drago’s arc is really the only new story, and I wish we could have seen a lot more of it.
There really isn’t anything overtly terrible about this movie, but it mostly just wanders around in very familiar territory. Unless a writer can think of some completely new direction to take this story, I don’t think we need to see Creed III. Time will tell.