When Creed III was announced, fans were excited but also nervous because Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character, Rocky Balboa, wouldn’t return to the franchise. Rocky has been part of every Creed movie, so how can you make a great third instalment without him? Well, just let star Michael B. Jordan do his thing as a first-time director and add Jonathan Majors to the cast, and you have a recipe for success again!
When your lifelong friend becomes your boxing rival
Jordan takes you back to 2000, when the 15-year-old foster kid, Adonis (Thaddeus James Mixson Jr.), gets in a lot of trouble with Damian “Dame” Anderson (Spence Moore II). Their relationship is more like the one between brothers than between friends. Adonis looks up to Dame, the first person who taught him how to box. One night, Dame is arrested and locked up after pulling his gun towards a man who picked a fight with Adonis.
So many years later, the two best friends come across each other outside Adonis’ box practice. Adonis is now a retired boxer living with his wife (Tessa Thompson) and daughter (Mila Davis-Kent) in LA and training upcoming boxing talent. Meanwhile, Dame (Jonathan Majors) has just been released from prison. It seems their friendship is still powerful, but it soon turns out that time and prison change a man. Someone who was once Adonis’ friend has now become a threat to his legacy, livelihood and family.
Different direction and style but the same knock-out performances
If you have seen the previous Creed movies, you will notice how different this film’s direction, style and vibe are. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Black Panther), who helmed the first movie, and Steven Caple Jr. (The Land), who sat in the director’s chair for Creed II, had similar approaches to the characters, the fights and the story development. However, this time, it’s different. Jordan isn’t afraid to show you the tough moments his character has to go through, both during his teenage and adult life, and highlight topics such as gangs, gun violence, betrayal and secrets. Yes, it’s a new-ish take on Creed, which is excellent, especially if you want to keep this franchise going.
This is the third time Jordan (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station) steps into the ring as Adonis, and now that he’s helming his first Creed film, his on-screen performance becomes even better, more powerful and more exhilarating. Thompson (Passing, Selma) and Davis-Kent deliver stunning performances, and they absolutely deserve more screen time. We would have loved to see a bit more of Adonis’ family and which impact the return of Dame has on his wife and daughter.
Despite their strong performances, Creed III certainly is Majors’ (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, The Harder They Fall) movie. The menace, anger, darkness and pain he brings to this movie are out-of-this-world. Don’t expect a boxer who’s only out for blood. No, expect a broken sportsman torn between his violent past, resentment for Adonis, and friendship and strong connection with Adonis. Majors brings an incredible layered and nuanced performance to this movie.
Of course, a Creed movie wouldn’t be anything without astonishing fights. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau (Thor: The Dark World, Chef) uses many slow motions and close-up, resulting in sweat, bloody and fantastic scenes. That final fight is an absolute masterpiece. We don’t want to say too much about it because the scene is a must-see without knowing anything about it. It makes the experience even more breathtaking and impactful.
The film loses some power due to the lack of Ludwig Göransson’s (Tenet, Black Panther) score. The music is a little bit of a let-down, but the other creative decisions certainly make up for that.
Breathtaking, action-packed and multi-layered directional debut!
While Creed III doesn’t reach the same level as the previous movies, it’s still a knock-out film. Jordan’s directional debut is, without a doubt, a love letter to the legacy of Adonis Creed. The boxing scenes are adrenaline-packed, while the performances are multi-layered and highly effective. This movie is not the end for this franchise, and we hope to see Jordan back in the director’s chair and on-screen soon!
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Also Read: Review: Creed II