Director: Michael B. Jordan
Writers: Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, and Phylicia Rashad
For the third entry to the Creed series Michael B. Jordan is on both sides of the camera, making his directorial debut as well as starring as the title character. This time around the story goes into past Adonis Creed’s past, which is coming back to haunt him. After a fight when they were both teenagers, Adonis’s best friend, Damian ‘Dame’ Anderson (Jonathan Majors), was sent to prison. All these years later Dame is out of prison and is looking to have a shot at his dream, but he has a lot of anger in him and time isn’t on his side.
Plotwise this is exactly what you’d expect from a Creed/Rocky film. It’s a story that’s just as much about family drama as it is about boxing. There’s a lot of familiar plot beats but they all still work. Fighting against aging/time is a major theme, which it has been right from the first Rocky film, then there’s the training montage, dramatic family moments, and of course, the big fight. It’s amazing that nine films in the formula works pretty much every single time and never feels stale.
The fights are brilliant. They’re visually stunning and brutal to watch. Jordan has spoken about how they were inspired by anime, and while that’s definitely felt, they’re still very grounded. Each fight is shot brilliantly so you feel every single punch. Even though the fights are brutal, there is an emphasis on boxing not being about violence, but strategy and skill.
What makes this one special is how well written the characters are, especially the newcomer, Dame. He’s an exceptionally well-crafted villain. You can completely understand where he’s coming from and why he’s acting the way he is. For years he’s sat in a cell watching time go by and missing out on life. He’s watched Adonis live his dream and achieve everything he thought he would. Jonathan Majors is a powerhouse in this film. His performance brings everything together, making Dame the best antagonist of the entire franchise to date.
This is the first entry of the Rocky/Creed series not to star Sylvester Stallone, although he is credited as a producer. For the most part the film steps completely out of Rocky’s shadow. It moves the series forward, while still referencing the past. There is one particular scene where Rocky’s absence is felt, which won’t be spoilt here, but you don’t really notice it for the majority of the story. For the series to survive it needs to move forward without leaning on legacy characters, and that’s exactly what this does.
Creed III is simply brilliant. From the opening shot, its adrenaline filled and never lets up. Jordan is brilliant both in front and behind the camera. It stands among the best of the Rocky/Creed series and it’s clear that the franchise is in safe hands.
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