In the second installment of the Creed saga or the seventh chapter in the Rocky series, depending on your perspective, Sylvester Stallone’s script finds Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed wrestling with fatherhood, marriage, and the ghosts of the past, namely Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu’s Viktor Drago. Drago is of course the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the fighter who killed Apollo Creed before Rocky defeated him. Everything is a buildup to the final fight, in true Rocky fashion, as the two sons, one biological and one spiritual, prepare to knock each other bloody.
This is classic Rocky, and unfortunately, it doesn’t leave Jordan’s Adonis enough room to be himself. Yes, there’s chemistry between Jordan’s young fighter and his fiancee, Tessa Thompson’s singer Bianca, and some nuance added through the birth of their daughter. But it’s almost as if Stallone can’t quite let go of who Rocky is, and the script makes the dynamic too reliant on who Rocky is and who Adonis is because of Rocky. The film would be much more intriguing if Adonis had to figure this out on his own.
You might think I’m taking this too hard, but in the run-up to the final follow-up fight, Max Kellerman literally shouts out, “What difference does Adonis think he can make in this fight? Oh yeah, he has Rocky in his corner for this one!” This is all after a first fifteen to twenty minutes where I wondered if Rocky was even alive, or not a Sixth Sense-like ghost… which might have dialed up the internal friction for Adonis. Instead, the audience hears Rocky tell Jordan’s version of Creed that he’s too comfortable, not hard enough.
Remember when Adonis Creed was an abandoned child who fought his way up from the streets? Are we supposed to ignore the way the first film went? And then there’s the tripe about how Adonis doesn’t know how to be a dad, can’t change a diaper, freaks out when his kid cries the first time he’s responsible on his own. Seriously, Michael B. Jordan deserved a better script. Sure, it’s made a lot of money…we keep lining up to feel the final montage/Rocky theme resonate in our soul – but that’s because they made Drago a cheater (again) when he out-boxed and out-fought Adonis both times from a boxing perspective.
Maybe it’s time Rocky really does die on screen – and Adonis Creed is left to see what stories a young black man could tell on screen, without a paternalistic white guy coming to his rescue. We saw the story that Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman could tell with Ryan Coogler running the show in Black Panther. Maybe we should give that a shot- and see a Rocky-like character for today’s culture.
Special features include “From Father to Son, Blood Runs Hot,” “Finding the Authentic,” “The Women of “Creed II”, “The Rocky Legacy,” and deleted scenes.