Terrence Shambley, Staff Writer
“Creed 2” sacrifices unpredictability to execute a well-rounded film that centers black love, the character of Adonis Creed and the common struggle of escaping the shadow of one’s parents.
The film picks up where it left off with the relationship of Adonis Creed and Bianca. Bianca, who fans of the first “Creed” know has progressive hearing loss and was taking ASL (American Sign Language) classes, signs to Adonis. Adonis doesn’t sign back, but he understands her and verbally responds, implying to the audience that he’s taken some ASL classes of his own. Adonis goes on to propose to Bianca after receiving some advice from Rocky Balboa, and the couple soon finds out Bianca is pregnant with their child. Bianca’s pregnancy illustrates the tension between Adonis and Bianca, a young black couple who want to focus on their careers having to adjust to a new family member. The torch that is the familiarity of their love guides their journey into the unknown of “starting a family”.
Moving onto Adonis as a standalone character, he is very one-dimensional for the bulk of the movie. Adonis Creed is a hot-head: he’s stubborn, ambitious, standoffish and talks his shit. The first fight of the movie is between him and Danny Wheeler, a foe who knocked Adonis out in the first movie and won the keys to his Mustang. This time around, Creed knocks out Wheeler and wins his Mustang back along with the boxing Heavyweight Championship belt of the world. This is one of three fighting scenes in the movie and each one has the same theme: redemption. That’s what made this movie predictable. When the biggest fight of the story, Adonis Creed versus Viktor Drago, happens an hour into the movie, we know what’s going to happen because we know who Adonis is.
Adonis feeds off of adversity; redemption is Adonis’ fuel. So, Adonis will lose (spoiler alert). He will lose the fight and his sense of self, then spend the rest of the movie training and putting in the hard, gritty work that redemption requires. And only then will he win. Adonis’ character has progressed from boyfriend to fiancé, contender to champion and spunky prodigy to seasoned brawler. If this franchise continues, the next natural step in his development must be impulsive, uncertain hot-head to strategic, self-knowing hot-head.
As much as “Creed 2” is Adonis’ movie, Viktor Drago arguably takes bigger strides to move out of his father’s shadow. The film does a great job of humanizing its main antagonist. Rocky describes Viktor as a child that was “raised in hate.” Viktor’s father, Ivan Drago, is still bitter about his thirty-year-old loss to Rocky in his homeland, Russia. He’s lost everything because of Rocky. He lost his partner (Viktor’s mother), his championship belt and the respect of his country. So he raises his son to avenge him by “breaking” Adonis, Rocky Balboa’s mentee. “All [Viktor] knows is these,” Ivan boasts to Rocky, holding up his fists. Later, when Viktor is getting beat by Creed in their final fight, Ivan drops his vendetta with Rocky and throws in the towel, comforting his son and telling him it’s okay. Because of Ivan’s change of attitude, Viktor’s character is given the room to exist outside of the vengeful energy he was raised in, and we can’t help but sympathize with the Dragos.
All in all, if folks want to see a boxing movie full of continuous brawls, “Creed 2” isn’t for you. But if you want to enjoy a narrative of young black love and dad shadow dodging with some cool fighting scenes every now and then, check it out.
This article was originally published in the Dec. 07, 2018 issue.