After a good-not-great second movie in the franchise, Creed III comes back with a knockout punch!
When Creed came out in 2015, it was a surprise to many! A spin-off of the decades old Rocky franchise, starring Sylvester Stallone in the coaching role? It was almost definitely going to come off as a cash grab. An easy way for the aging Stallone to make a buck. The shock came when people actually saw the movie. Creed was a crowd-pleasing, feel-good movie that hit hard when it came out at Thanksgiving. Not just that, but Stallone proved that he still had it! He earned an Oscar nomination for reprising his role as Balboa and nearly even won the award! A sequel or two was inevitable. The second movie hit familiar beats and was a lesser, though still good, follow-up. For Creed III, Jordan takes over for his directorial debut. What a debut it is!
A Worthy Threequel
Picking up years after the events of the second movie, Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) is retired from boxing and focusing on his family. He is now a business mogul, owning his own boxing gym and acting as a mentor to several protégés. When he is approached one day by a friend from childhood, Damian (Jonathan Majors), shows up asking for a shot at the big time, Adonis has a hard time saying no. His past comes back to haunt him in more ways than one.
From the opening scene, depicting a young Adonis and a young Damian sneaking out, it is clear we are in good hands. Having been directed by Ryan Coogler for several films, Jordan had a good mentor to observe. Jordan immediately makes Creed III his own, however, by the way in which he films the boxing scenes. Blow after blow, block after block, every moment is felt in the ring. Every punch felt more deeply than the last. By making it such a visceral experience, it makes it all the more clear that boxing is a young man’s game. It takes its toll on anyone who dares face it, but especially the aging Damian and Adonis.
As Damian, Majors proves that he is a star. He is immediately captivating from the moment we lay eyes on him. From the way Creed approaches his re-appearance, we want to feel uneasy about him. But Majors is so careful to flesh out who Damian is that we are taken by him, just as Adonis is. For as good as Jordan is as Creed and as the director, it says a lot that Creed III is Jonathan Majors’ movie. No matter how terrible Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was (through no fault of Majors), this cements his star status.
The one downside to the movie is the lack of Tessa Thompson. One thing that made the original Creed so memorable is the relationship between Creed and Bianca. The girlfriend/wife role in sports movies can be so easily dismissed but Coogler gave us time to care about Bianca and Thompson gave us a reason to. In Creed III, she is mostly sidelined, though she gets a moment here or there.
Overall, Creed III is yet another great movie in the Rocky/Creed extended universe. Damian is one of the more memorable villains from the franchise. I am looking forward to seeing where this universe takes us next. If the end of this movie is any indication, it’ll be a different, but very exciting direction.