CREED III review by Mark Walters – Michael B. Jordan fights Jonathan Majors, and directs this installment

CREED III review by Mark Walters – Michael B. Jordan fights Jonathan Majors, and directs this installment

The ROCKY franchise didn’t go away after six movies, it just evolved into the CREED franchise, which has been quite good. Michael B. Jordan is commanding the big screen playing Apollo Creed’s son Adonis Creed, who must prove himself in the ring time and time again, which of course affords us multiple films to enjoy. I’ve been very impressed with this new franchise so far, and from the looks of the trailer for CREED III, the third installment looked to be every bit as good as the first two. This outing is also directed by Michael B. Jordan from a screenplay by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin, and the cast includes (once again) Tessa Thompson, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad, and the new nemesis played by Jonathan Majors. So is the third time the charm?

Adonis Creed is now the heavyweight champion of the world, and has retired to raise his daughter and live life as a family man. His time in the ring appears to be over, and he’s now running a gym and training future boxers to follow in his footsteps. But things take an unexpected turn when his childhood friend Damian (Jonathan Majors) shows up unexpectedly after spending 18 years in prison, hoping to reconnect with Adonis. We learn by way of flashbacks that Adonis and Damian had an unfortunate altercation in their youth that landed Damian behind bars while Adonis found fame and fortune. Now, Damian hopes to pursue his original dream of becoming a boxing champion, and asks Adonis to help him get there. Feeling partially responsible for Damian’s incarceration, Adonis feels compelled to help his old friend, and agrees to train him, and even gets him a match. Damian proves himself in the ring, and surprisingly challenges Adonis for the title, revealing his motivation all along was to take everything Adonis has in revenge. With both men facing challenges, age and physicality, it’s a dangerous idea, and one Adonis fears could be a big mistake… but one he can’t run away from.

CREED III is a redemption story wrapped in the disguise of a revenge story. It’s also the most personal of the CREED film franchise, which makes Michael B. Jordan’s effort behind the camera that much more important. This film finds Adonis content in his current life, living as world champion with a happy family and his biggest concern being his aging mother and whether or not to move her in with him. Phylicia Rashad is once again terrific as Mary-Anne Creed, bringing a real emotional impact to not only her character but her relationship with her son. Tessa Thompson also grows with her character of Bianca, becoming a mother and evolving her career after dealing with her hearing loss. Mila Davis-Kent stars as their daughter Amara, who is deaf, and she is terrific in the role. I loved seeing her relationship with her parents, and how they’ve adapted to her needs. Michael B. Jordan is giving it his all here, really finding the balance in Creed’s success and inner struggles, and how the character has grown and changed since the franchise began. He knows how to frame himself as the film’s star, but the proceedings never feel like a vanity piece, or overly self-indulgent. But the biggest revelation here is the tour de force of Jonathan Majors as the tortured soul of Damian, a man who has lived decades of regret and anguish behind bars, and now desperately wants his moment in the spotlight he feels he was denied. Majors is proving over and over how strong of a performer he is, and how he’s one of the best and brightest new talents to hit the Hollywood scene in quite sometime. He was easily the best part of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, and he’s absolutely one of the best parts of this film as well.

CREED III runs just under two hours, never overstaying its welcome, and in some ways feels like it could have run even longer or delivered more story if it wanted to. Jordan compartmentalized a big narrative into a respectable run time, and the pacing and impact of it all flows quite well. In some ways things play out in pretty predictable fashion, but the journey to get there is strong and masterfully executed. I see a good future for Jordan as a director, this is a solid first effort, and might just be my favorite of the three-film franchise so far. The final fight is expertly done, really selling the grandeur of the story. I also loved how you could understand both perspectives here, as Damian has good reason to feel the way he does. If this outing is to be the final of the franchise, it’s a strong finish and definitely worthy of watching. The absence of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky is perhaps the only negative, but I understand the rights issues behind that. Regardless, Jordan has made this franchise his own, and delivers yet another killer performance. Seeing him face off with a powerhouse like Majors is so good, I honestly think they should end it here, as I don’t see how they could top it.

CREED III opens March 3, 2023

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.