Romesh Ranganathan has finally caught up with Creed 2 – and the following contains spoilers.
One of my favourite things to do on tour is distract myself from the fear of imminent failure by watching random movies. This week it was the turn of Creed 2, the story of Apollo Creed’s son taking on Ivan Drago’s son in a settling of scores type of affair that’s so unusual for this type of movie. The first Creed was a surprisingly good movie, and I have to admit to being a complete sucker for the lovely old man that Rocky Balboa has become, muttering profound advice in his endearingly charming way. It also features the absolute force of charisma that is Tony Bellew, who from working with on League Of Their Own I have completely fallen in love with.
I was also completely sucked in by the trailer. The first couple of minutes were pretty standard boxing movie fare and I remember thinking ‘so far so blah’ until the villain of the piece turned around in the ring to reveal the name across the back of his robe: ‘Drago’. I gasped with joy, even though this really didn’t offer any suggestion that the film would be any better for it. I just knew I had to see it.
The movie is exactly as you think it is. Rocky doesn’t want him to take the fight, he takes the fight, gets his arse handed to him, then he and Rocky make up and he fights him again and I would hate to spoil the ending. I enjoyed the film thoroughly. My agent phoned me up to ask what my film choice was, and when I told her Creed 2 she asked me how it was. When I described the film to her, she pointed out that it seemed extremely by the numbers. I went to defend the film, but realised she was absolutely right. Yet I had loved it.
It was then that I realised there is nothing wrong with a film that does exactly what you expect it to, but does it really well. They did indeed have a training montage where Adonis Creed (played by Michael B Jordan, the man who has played the best Marvel movie villain to date) falls to the ground and then wills himself to his feet in a way that makes you feel great, but you can’t relate to in any way at all. This does, admittedly, sit in opposition to the joy of the very first Rocky film, where he ends up being – spoiler alert – a people’s champion despite losing the fight. But Creed 2 did everything I wanted it to: set up a terrifying opponent, raised the stakes beyond all plausible levels, and then showed us the ending we were hoping for beyond hope.
Sometimes, of course, you want to be challenged by a film. You want it to take you in directions you could never see coming, and deliver a story that was so surprising you have to discuss it with a friend, read all of the internet discussions, or read this magazine, to see if other people interpreted it the same way that you did. On other occasions, however, you want a film to just take you by the hand and lead you through the steps of a story of an unlikely victory so, when you get ready for work the next day and you’re feeling knackered, you imagine you’re in the training montage and feel like you can tackle anything.
I’ve overstated that a little bit, but I needed an ending for this.
Romesh Ranganathan is currently on tour around the UK. Find out more at www.romeshranganathan.co.uk. Romesh writes a monthly column in Film Stories magazine.
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