March 1st, 2023
MOVIE: CREED III
STARRING: MICHAEL B. JORDAN, TESSA THOMPSON, JONATHAN MAJORS, WOOD HARRIS, PHYLICIA RASHAD
DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL B. JORDAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The shadow of Rocky Balboa has hovered above the Creed installments. Ryan Coogler beautifully introduced us to the rising stardom of Adonis Creed, yet it was still more of a Rocky movie, and about passing on the legacy. Creed II gave Adonis the mammoth challenge of Ivan Drago’s son, a true test of strength for the new hero, but still fighting old ghosts of Rocky’s past. Creed III is the first true Creed movie. Admittedly, still relying on the tropes of most boxing movies, but officially paving its own path, guided by the superb direction of Michael B. Jordan, Creed III stands tall in the ring and packs an emotional punch.
There is no Stallone this time around, with an apparent spat between producer Irwin Winkler and Sly over the direction of these characters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We start anew, catch up with Adonis (Jordan) at the end of his career, fighting one more bout before retirement. He moves behind the scenes, managing newcomer Felix Chavez with his coach Little Duke Burton (Wood Harris), all in hopes to make him the next champion of the world. The bigger goal is family, protecting his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), monitoring the health of his mother Mary-Anne (Phylicia Rashad), and supporting wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) in her music-producing career. And life seems good until the past comes back in the hulking personality of Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), an old friend from the juvenile home, a one-time promising boxer, and now released from prison with a chip on his shoulder. He defeats Chavez, proves his point, and now pushes Adonis to face his darkest demons in the ring.
The turn of dramatics here are quite brilliant. The screenplay, written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin, with the story by Ryan Coogler, doesn’t just introduce us to a villain, but a character with more complexities than just “a bad guy”. It’s a complete departure from Rocky-movies past. Adonis is fighting a man with an angry streak and a genuine reason to be upset. It’s a deeper look at masculinity and how men handle their emotions in their adult life. The performance by Majors is once again superb, as he has bulked physically to an awe-inspiring state, but naturally bounces his energy off of Jordan. The two characters are connected by their past and it makes for the first villain of a Rocky movie to be authentic in their pain. Clubber Lang was sheer veracity. Ivan Drago was a towering force. Diamond Dame is the real deal.
From a direction standpoint, Creed III is a great start for Jordan, as his inspirations of Anime comics and care for the character shows. He has also perfected the fight style that Coogler had implemented in the first Creed. There is a hypnotic dance that happens, mixed with quick fierce punches, and set to the thumping score by Joseph Shirley. It becomes a dash of kung-fu from The Raid mixed with the smooth dancing of Magic Mike. It’s all topped off with the never dull boxing montage which instills motivation and instant energy that sends the final act into a big high.
It’s interesting to see where Creed III will land in the Rocky–Creed cinema collection. As a trilogy Creed is not the underdog to Rocky and it happens because Michael B. Jordan has a great love for this character. Where Rocky IV and V veered into the ridiculous, the hope is that Creed III would be the final installment. Either way, I didn’t hear no bell, and Creed III is a heavyweight champ.
CREED III IS PLAYING IN THEATERS FRIDAY MARCH 3RD, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady