Saturday, February 16, 2019

Point of Personal Privilege: "Creed II" is a really, really bad movie (Spoilers!)

Michael B. Jordan in Creed II (2018)

I finally got around to watching this film the other day.  I didn't have much by way of expectations; after all, I saw the first one and thought it was a predictably blah flick.  But at least it didn't make me angry.  This one made me angry.  More about that later.

First, let's talk about Michael B Jordan.  Is this guy a sought-after actor nowadays, and if so, may I ask why?  He has all the emotional range of Derek Zoolander.  He's like a male Alicia Vikander.  He's got exactly one look- sullen, surly, angry, morose, whatever you want to call it, there it is, on his face, at all times.  He's not at all interesting- in fact, I'd call his "characterizations" (to be charitable) downrght boring.  The only time in this film he shows any recognizable human traits is when he's writhing away on the canvas, crying and holding his crushed ribs.  More about THAT later, too.

Second, the story.  I'm pretty sure the character of Creed was a light-heavyweight in the first film.  I guess that wasn't sexy or audience-friendly enough, so he's suddenly a heavyweight in the sequel, whatever.  I guess if we can look past the fact that he's supposed to be the son of someone who died in 1985 yet I'm pretty sure is supposed to be in his mid-twenties, we can overlook the sudden weight jump, too.

My real problem is the mixed message/dropped plot point of the second fight.  The first time Creed fights Viktor Drago, he gets so badly beaten up that he suffers broken ribs and a ruptured kidney.  Drago gets disqualified, which ticked me off at first but then when the reporters are shouting questions at surly (what else?) Creed at the hospital, I thought Creed might say "hey, he kicked my butt, I was going to lose anyway, give him the belt."  That might have been cool.  But nah.

But here's the kicker:  Rocky doesn't want Creed to fight again- Creed's wife is pregnant, he was almost killed in the first fight, nothing more to prove, etc. etc. and most importantly, Rocky is still wracked with guilt for not throwing in the towel when Apollo was being annihilated by Ivan Drago way back in 1985.  He tells Adonis straight on that darn it, he should have thrown that towel, he'll never forgive himself for not throwing that towel, if he had thrown in the towel Apollo might have been upset but he would have been spared to build a relationship with his child,  and would have eventually realized how stupid risking his life for one more moment in the sun truly was.

But in the rematch, Adonis gets beaten up again and is dropped to the canvas by brutal body punches.  He's literally crying with pain as he's lying on the canvas, clutching his re-crushed rib cage- and Rocky doesn't throw in the towel.  Instead, he begs Adonis to get back up (so does Adonis' wife, which is beyond bizarre.)  So Viktor can finish him off, I guess.  I mean, the referee clearly isn't going to rescue Creed- he's not going to stop the fight until Creed vomits up his other kidney from the looks of things.  But I thought Rocky was remorseful because he could have saved Creed's father but froze instead and didn't throw that towel.  So, what the hell?

(Before the final round, Rocky asks Adonis- who is clearly in a great deal of pain, with one eye closed, if he wants to throw in the towel.  Adonis can't even answer- and Rocky mutters approvingly "I didn't think so."  Again- what the hell?  Did the writers just want to make it clear that Rocky learned absolutely nothing from that 1985 fight and that all his "shoulda thrown the towel" nonsense was just that, nonsense?)

And then Creed, with his caved-in lungs, gets up and stops Viktor with a series of head shots which come out of nowhere.  Time is running out in the final round but Viktor's dad demonstrates that he's the only person around with even a shred of humanity and throws in the towel himself, rescuing his son, though it  was pretty obvious that had he not done so Viktor would have won, as the ref was being totally fair in his handling of the bout- the fight would continue until Creed expelled that kidney or Viktor's head was deposited into the third row.

I don't usually play script doctor, but here's how this film could have ended in a much more realistic and perfectly satisfying way:  Creed is the challenger, having opted to hand Viktor the belt despite the disqualification.  In the rematch Creed does much better despite being badly hurt again, and may even be gaining the upper hand late in the fight, but it's also clear that he's suffering from internal bleeding and could die if the contest continues.  Creed knocks down Viktor and has him in serious trouble but its clear that he can't finish him off without an effort that could cost him his life- so as he's on the attack, Rocky throws in the towel.  Creed is upset and angry until he sees his wife climbing into the ring and realizes that the almost became his father in the worst way, being willing to sacrifice years with his child for one great moment of glory.  He closes the circle by shrugging off the fight and embracing his wife, leaving Viktor with a belt which now means nothing to him.

Ok, now that that's fixed, I can get back to snarking on commercials.  And Michael B. Jordan can get back to those acting lessons.  And Sylvester Stallone can stop making these films already.

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