"Creed II"

There is one scene in this film with Rocky that pulled at my soul. It is a wonderful place in time and generations tying with the theme of family. Boxing is the crux of this film, yet the motivation and the why and the will drove the story.

Michael B. Jordan continues to build his emotional stamina as an actor with his performance as Adonis Creed. Sylvester Stallone is ever strong as Rocky, leading with Creed yet maintaining his presence as a champion, Tessa Thompson is eclectically beautiful as Bianca, representing women who love their man and the ambition yet pursue their dreams with found will, Florian Munteanu as Victor Drago does not have many lines but carries the weight of his incredible performance with his facial expressions and gravitas, Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago is phenomenal with selfish redemption through his son and a “by any means necessary” attitude, Wood Harris delivers wisdom as Tony, one of Adonis’ trainers, Russell Hornsby plays boxing promoter Buddy Marcelle with a conniving nature peppered into the conflict. Phylicia Rashad is elegant and commanding as Mary Anne Creed with bits of humor. I am happy she was in the film more.

I have much respect for Director Steven Caple Jr., who worked through the tight schedule and delivered dedication through his craft. His attention to the grim and gray of the Ukraine contrasted to the sun and gleam of Los Angeles was one remarkably sharp detail. Bravo to the entire crew of this film. Composer Ludwig Göransson created an ode to the Rocky score with grittiness essential to Creed. Writers Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone with the story by Cheo Hodari Coker and Sascha Penn carried enjoyable references of the first film to this film. It was also not too gruesome. At one point, Adonis’ eyes were not swollen in the middle of a fight. There is an interesting middle part that awakened myself and the audience I sat with. There were at least 5-10 minutes that could have been shaved off the film. Otherwise, “Creed II” is as perfect as an imperfect film can be.