Creed II (2018) boxes clever but it’s clear the franchise won’t make a 10 count…

Three years after his noble loss to Ricky Conlan in “Creed”, Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) has put together a string of victories and defeats Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Andre Ward) to win the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. Engaged to be married, everything looks rosy for the new world champion until, that is, his father’s legacy reasserts itself. Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago who killed Adonis’ father in the ring, puts down a challenge and Creed must decide how best to meet it.

Conspicuously more formulaic than the first movie, “Creed II” does at least have the distinction of being a sequel to two different movies at the same time, picking up not only the story from “Creed” but also “Rocky IV”. Thematically, it riffs harder on the idea of legacy and fatherhood, forcing both Adonis and Rocky himself to confront their father and son issues respectively.

Along the way, it drops in a little bit of soap opera drama involving Adonis’ new-born baby but it’s ultimately a very by-the-numbers sports drama which succeeds largely due to the performances of the cast. Despite the presence of both Stallone and Dolph Lundgren, the Balboa/ Drago rematch never quite ignites and while the film is more focussed on Creed v Drago, you never get the sense that Viktor harbours any kind of animosity towards his opponent, leaving Creed’s biggest struggle to be against his own self-doubt.

It’s a solid and enjoyable sports drama but the lack of anywhere for the story to really go by the end of this eighth chapter suggests it’s probably time for this franchise to throw in the towel.