‘Creed III’ – Review

Through the directorial eyes of Michael B. Jordan, Creed III allows the Creed films to create their own legacy and a new path for the future of the franchise. 

The first two Creed films dealt with legacy. How do you live up to the legacy thrust upon you and at what point are you creating your own legacy? The Creed films have always lived in the shadow of the Rocky franchise, but despite that, they have still managed to build a life of their own. With Creed III, however, the franchise largely steps away from that shadow and allows Adonis Creed to fully shine on his own, allowing it to begin starting its own legacy removed from Rocky

Creed III begins with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in his final fight before retiring from boxing. Adonis is living a relaxing and modest life running a gym, sponsoring upcoming boxers, and being a father to his deaf daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) and a husband to his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson). The retirement life is interrupted when a familiar face from his past appears: the old friend with whom Adonis shared a brotherly bond with until his incarceration, Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Dame’s return forces Adonis to confront his past head-on and eventually step back in the ring. 

The star of this movie is hands down Michael B. Jordan, but for his performance behind the camera, rather than in front. Don’t get it twisted, Jordan is once again a star in his own right, adding depth and vulnerability to a tough exterior, but it’s his direction that gives the franchise a whole new style and flare. His competency is clear from the get go, but it’s the unique perspective he brings to film, especially during the film’s climatic fight scene, that makes it clear that this is purely Adonis’s story.

Sylvester Stallone’s absence, while missed, isn’t distracting at all. This film is purely about Adonis and his struggles to move forward as a tightly-held secret from his past comes back to haunt him. And while some subplots such as Adonis’s mother’s declining health and some of Amari’s struggles feel slightly underwritten and don’t get the full examination they deserve, the spotlight on Adonis is fully earned as it allows the character to deal with what he has to in order to move forward. Doing it without Rocky Balboa there allows it to carry more emotional depth so it can reach a satisfying, if not a little predictable, conclusion. 

Opposite Adonis, you have Dame. Jonathan Majors continues what seems to be his takeover of Hollywood, as he once again shows off a cunning charm that hides dark intentions. His bond with Adonis (and to that extent, Jordan) does give way for what initially seems like a genuine bond, but it’s when he starts to reveal himself that Majors shines. While you’re not rooting for him per se, you feel the weight of what he’s trying to do and why he’s doing it.

The climatic Adonis versus Dame boxing match is probably the most personal a fight has felt in this entire franchise, including the Rocky movies. I cannot stress enough how Jordan’s directorial flare helps with that, and while I won’t go into the specifics as to what he did, in the middle of the fight, you feel the full weight of seemingly decades of torment, pent-up anger, and guilt brewing right into the fight as the two duke it out. From one punch to the next, it’s absolutely riveting and powerful. 

While Jordan and Majors have (deservedly) been on the receiving end of most of the praise for the film, I do think Thompson’s Bianca deserves much more praise for her role in the franchise as a whole. In each film, Thompson and the writers have done an exceptional job of making her not just “the girl,” and Creed III is no exception. Here we see Bianca similarly struggling to move forward with her life after her musical career took a hit due to her hearing problems, and dichotomy between the way she’s been dealing with that in a much healthier way in contrast to Adonis keeping his feelings in and letting them grow into more anger. 

Other than a few passing mentions to Rocky and Apollo, Creed III is a standalone film that allows Adonis to fully evolve on his own and without the constraints of the Rocky movies. The first two Creed movies are great, amazing even. But through the directorial eyes of Jordan, Creed III allows the Creed films to create their own legacy and a new path for the future of the franchise. 

Grade: A-

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound

Where to Watch: In Theaters

Adriano Caporusso
Critic and journalist student from Toronto, Canada
Favorite Actor: Brendan Fraser
Sign: Taurus

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