Creed II

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HI­LARY A WHITE

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.

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