The predictable but undeniably effective formula that’s served the “Rocky” franchise well works again here, thanks to well-developed characters and surprisingly engaging dynamics among them. It’s particularly interesting to see Dolph Lundgren back as Ivan Drago, who has spent the last few decades in shame and humiliation following his defeat back in “Rocky 4,” and you can practically feel Drago’s resentful energy coming through the screen thanks to Lundgren’s still-intimidating onscreen presence. The Drago storyline turns out to be surprisingly compelling because it exemplifies a number of geopolitical realities that have kept marginalized people crushed under the thumb of financial and political authoritarianism, which is not a new theme to the “Rocky” movies but feels narratively potent again. As with the preceding entry however, “Creed 2” is hobbled by an unrelenting dourness and an unnecessarily padded running length that prevent the movie from becoming as engaging and compelling as it could be. It would be interesting to see a judiciously edited version to trim some of the fat and tighten up the pace, but as it is, it’s a worthwhile-if-unremarkable addition to the long-running series.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)