The Creed series started as a fun homage to the Rocky series and now has exploded into its own loving tribute to the beautiful sport of boxing. Michael B. Jordan became a household name because of the series, and now we’re on the third entry with Adonis Creed facing off against his greatest rival. The magic of these movies, like Rocky, is that the big matches at the end of the films mean a lot more than just who wins and who loses. In the case of Creed III, this is Adonis vs. himself, his past, and a fight for his present life.
If you haven’t seen the other Creed films but are intrigued by this because of Jonathan Majors or some other reason, you don’t have to know much about the previous films besides that Adonis Creed is the son of Apollo Creed from the Rocky films. It is a much more enjoyable experience to get the full picture of Adonis’s life if you first watch the other two films in the trilogy.
Adonis Vs. His Past
Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is enjoying retirement at the start of this film. He’s a family man with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). That retirement doesn’t mean a complete cut from boxing, though. He’s still a promoter. His next big fight is Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) against the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez). Through flashbacks, we see how Adonis and his friend Damian (Jonathan Majors) got into boxing. Adonis was a small fry, and Damian was the future champion.
After an unfortunate run-in with the law, Damian gets arrested and put in prison for 18 years. Adonis goes on to heavyweight gold and the events of Creed and Creed II. That is until Damian gets out of prison and visits Adonis. All is well, but there’s something bubbling under the surface with Dame and Adonis. Without spoiling the catalyst for events, Dame puts Adonis in a tough spot when he asks him to give him a heavyweight title shot. That leads to a conflict ending with a huge match between Adonis and Dame.
Starting off with the boxing action in Creed III, it’s shot beautifully. Particularly the finale between Adonis and Dame. That fight plays out, unlike any other boxing movie fight. It’s more like a bout between two characters in Dragon Ball. The way Michael B. Jordan (he directs the film and stars) and the crew shoot this fight is more personal and powerful. There are some exquisite narrative and artistic choices here.
Two Sides Of The Same Coin
Dame is the most formidable foe that Adonis has ever faced. It’s greatly aided by Jonathan Majors being the undisputed heavyweight champion of actors right now. As we saw in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Devotion, he can play any type of character, but he really excels as a foil to our hero. He’s everything that Adonis isn’t. He’s not a pretty boxer in the ring. He fights dirty. He’s brutal. There’s less finesse to his game.
The film’s heart is the battle between them and the dance that Majors and Jordan play. Everything else is secondary and only builds to the climax. Jordan’s family around him does add to the proceedings, with Tessa Thompson giving her all with limited material throughout the film. She’s left as Adonis’s therapist for most of the film, but she’s fantastic when she gets to stretch out in the role.
As for the script, Zach Baylin and Keenan Coogler do a fine job, but there are some spots where it’s really forced and stunted. Majors and Jordan make it work, but some of the dialogue and trash-talking don’t come off natural. I hate to be the movie critic that says, “yeah, but this would never actually happen in real life”, but there are about two too many moments like that. Giving a boxer who’s never had a professional fight, who’s been sitting in jail for 18 years, a shot at the title is far-fetched, but some even more ridiculous situations come out from Adonis and Dame’s rivalry than that.
A Thrilling Trilogy Ender
Creed III does a marvelous job of tying up this first arc for Adonis Creed. He faces his most personal and toughest test in and out of the ring. Jonathan Majors slays as Dame, making for the most formidable foe in the series. It’s a deeply cathartic film for Adonis Creed as a character, and you can see the journey he takes through its almost two-hour runtime. Some logical issues aside, this is a fantastic entry in the Creed series that should satisfy boxing fans, Creed fans, and any other moviegoers.
Creed III takes a well-worn storyline involving a former friend returning from prison and shakes it up slightly, making for the most personal and powerful entry in the Creed series. Michael B. Jordan does a magnificent job in his directorial debut. Jonathan Majors is as compelling as villains come in this one.
Creed III releases in theaters on March 3rd, 2023.
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