Cert: 12A; Now showing
When it was announced that director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) was helming another tacked-on instalment of the Rocky franchise, the feeling was that every avenue had surely been exhausted in the brand. What’s more, boxing films almost always follow the same rise-fall-rise narrative course. What was the point?
Creed (2015) turned out to be a revelation, a smart, sophisticated addition to the canon that saw the late Apollo Creed’s son Adonis (Michael B Jordan) stepping into his father’s shoes while coaxing Rocky (a Golden Globewinning Sylvester Stallone) out of retirement to coach him.
The film made many friends, and a return visit with director Steven Caple Jr replacing Coogler (who sits as executive producer) is a pleasant prospect.
We find ourselves in the austere greys of Ukraine, with Ivan Drago (welcome back, Dolph Lundgren) who, 33 years after killing Apollo in the ring, is training mountainous, glasschewing son Viktor (Florian Munteanu). Drago’s life was torn apart following defeat to Rocky, and now he and his filial beast from the east want revenge.
Back in the US, life moves on for Adonis, his musician partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and trusty mentor Rocky, but this challenge from the past could consume him if he is not careful.
Stallone is the meat in the sandwich once again, and brings emotional ballast to a wholly predictable plot. While hugely compelling, some panto-ish elements do creep in.