REVIEW: Creed III (2023)

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is living the highlife; he has a loving family and while he’s retired from boxing he’s still in that world as a gym owner and boxing promoter. When his childhood best friend Damien Anderson (Jonathan Majors), a boxing prodigy, re-enters Adonis’s life after a long stint in prison, he’s eager to prove he deserves a shot in the ring – no matter who might stand in his way.

Creed III takes place seven years after the events of Creed II and the film does such a good job at showing that passage of time and how the characters lives have changed. Donnie has retired though is still heavily involved with the boxing world and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) has been winning awards for her music and while Donnie is shaping up-and-coming young boxers, she’s writing and producing new musical talent. Their daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) is deaf and it was so good to see how her parents and grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) were fluent in sign language and how their home was fully accessible for her too, such as having lights flash when the doorbell rang. Obviously, any loving parent should be eager to learn new things in order to communicate with their child, but it was so nice seeing this kind of family which you don’t tend to see in a big mainstream film.

Creed III is Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut and he really did come out swinging (pun intended) and the fights really do have his own stamp on them. They’re different in style to the previous films in the franchise and really focus in on the character drama and conflict going on between Donnie and Damien. Also, the sound design and how the fights are shot are so good. The punches when they make contact make you wince as these boxers really go through it in the ring. A key component of this franchise is the training montage and the one in this film one of my favourites, the soundtrack plus how Adonis and Damien’s training styles contrast with each other makes a really entertaining montage.

The performances are great across the board and really sell the high stakes personal drama these characters have going on but Jonathan Majors is truly outstanding. He sells it in the physicality and the showman moments but it’s the quieter moments when he’s clearly not used to life on the outside that are really impactful. Damien has a lot of rage and resentment and a desire to get his life and former glory back, no matter the costs and how that’s juxtaposed with Adonis’ desire to help him out of guilt and his concern about him is really interesting. Majors and Jordan have excellent chemistry and there’s an underlying tension between the two of them from the beginning that just builds over the course of the film.

The final act, while thrilling, does arrive quite suddenly. There’s stuff to do with Adonis’ past and his relationship with Damien that feels like it could’ve been explored more, especially in relation to his role as a father and husband and how open he is (or isn’t) with Bianca. There’s a lot of themes to do with love, forgiveness, parental influence which are all interesting but some do feel a bit short-changed in the desire to get to the final fight – which is still suitably epic.

Overall, Creed III is a really entertaining and often surprisingly suspenseful drama. It shows who Adonis Creed is when he’s fully out of the shadow of his father and Rocky, and Michael B. Jordan is impressive both in front of and behind the camera. 4/5.

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