Creed II is undeniably formulaic, sticking to the formula established by Rocky movies of the past and sequels in general. While it's not as good as Creed, it's better than almost every Rocky with the exception of the original.
Steven Caple Jr. delivers something poetic and while there is no particularly memorable fight scene, he does use a particular visual style to emphasize drama, suspense, and other varying emotions. Sylvester Stallone returns to his role as writer and this time, it pays off big time. While he does stick to some clear formulaic character arcs with the protagonists, the thing that makes his writing good is the way he handles the Dragos. Ivan and Viktor gain my sympathy and Stallone turns them into so much more than the cardboard cut villains we saw in Rocky IV. He writes Ivan Drago with this intense perfection that honestly left me wanting more. Well done on both writing and direction.
Stallone is great playing what he plays best: Rocky. Tessa Thompson shines as Bianca and the actor who played Viktor Drago did pretty good. Dolph Lundgren got a chance to show why he's an extremely underrated actor in his return to his infamous role as Ivan Drago. He really does kill it in every scene. And yet Michael B. Jordan still kills it more than all of them as Adonis Creed. Creed's raw intensity and hunger to continue upholding his family's legacy while creating his own is perfectly captured through MBJ's performance.
Creed II isn't as good as Creed, but it definitely surpasses many of the Rocky films thanks to confident direction, decent writing, and plethora of finely tuned performances. (8/10)
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