I’ll start off by saying this film is incredibly predictable. From the trailer you can probably guess every single plot point in this film, you know how it’s going to end before the film even starts. You know what though? It doesn’t matter. This film is so greatly done that you get completely invested in it even though it’s predictable. The other downside: visually it’s only ever okay. This would be fine if the first Creed film wasn’t one of the best looking boxing films ever made. The way the first film approached some of the fights was a true masterclass in film-making, it made you feel like you were in there with them and you felt every single hit. This…..doesn’t do that. I mean, the fights are shot well and they look good, but there is a noticeable drop in quality between the fights in this one, and the fights in the first one. There’s no stand-out fights here in terms of technical brilliance.
Other than that small niggle, this film is great. It’s so good it retroactively makes Rocky IV better by giving more emotional depth to Drago. That’s something this film does very well; creates believable bad guys. You know exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing, they’re the heroes of their own story, and you can easily imagine them being the protagonists of another film. It managed to turn a cartoonish villain into a 3-dimensional one, and for that it definitely deserves applause. The Drago’s are also responsible for a surprisingly poignant moment near the end where (spoilers) Ivan Drago’s wife (and Viktor Drago’s mother) realises Viktor is going to lose the fight, and walks out the building with her new husband so she’s not associated with them. At that point you see Ivan’s heart break and he realises what he’s become, so throws in the towel to stop the fight. It’s not quite enough to make him a good guy, but throughout the film it’s hard to say they’re definitively bad guys either. It’s not just their performance though, Michael B Jordan plays Creed like a slightly cocky shit, but one with intense emotional conflict. There’s a moment here where his character says something to Rocky, and the way Michael plays the character, you can tell that he regrets what he said, but is too proud to apologise or go back on it, so he has to go further and dig himself deeper. This all takes place in a second and is done just by facial performance, it’s a masterpiece to see and is one of the best acting moments I’ve seen this year. Tessa Thompson is also great in this, with her character being given far more to do than she was in the first film. In that she was almost 2-dimensional to the point where if she wasn’t in this it wouldn’t be considered a massive loss. But she is essential to this film, her character is the anchor to Creed, the one holding him to earth, stopping him from spiralling out of control. She has earned her place in Rocky lore, pretty brilliant.
Stallone too brings his A-game, still recognisable as Rocky, but no longer the great boxer. His character has developed brilliantly across the last two films, and it’s great he’s not a “I still got it” character. The character knows his boxing career is in the past, and it’s now his job to pass the torch onto someone else (like Stallone himself is doing with these films).
So yeah that’s this film, if you hated the first film, this won’t change your mind. If you loved the first one, there’s a very good chance you’ll like this too. Well worth watching, anytime a film can be predictable yet still provide enough emotion to bring tears to your eyes is worth watching.