Creed III Stars Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and Jonathan Majors and is Directed by Jordan
Review: Creed III continues the win streak for the franchise, relying on emotionally potent performances by Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors.
Creed III is the latest movie in the Rocky franchise. It is the third movie to star Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, and serves as the movie star’s directorial debut. Jonathan Majors and Tessa Thompson also star.
I didn’t get the chance to write about Creed III during its theatrical release for various reasons, but I recently squeezed a viewing of it in at home and felt relatively the same about it after seeing it for a second time – It’s a really satisfying and mindless experience. I’m not sure it does a whole lot outside of being a relatively safe blockbuster, but it at least marks the arrival of Michael B. Jordan as a director.
And that’s because many of the best elements in Creed III revolve around Jordan’s style and visual ideas. It’s been documented frequently that Creed III has major swaths of anime influence due to the director’s fandom, and it works really well during the choreographed fight scenes. It pulls you out of the safe zone that you usually get by watching a movie in the Rocky universe – that the same plotlines are generally unearthed in each subsequent movie.
It’s actually quite astonishing that the Rocky franchise can continue to churn these out given that they have the same premise. They build up a new big bad, set some superficial stakes, and inevitably end with a boxing match usually won by protagonist. But the emotionally resonant acting styles of the leads (Sylvester Stallone in the original saga, Michael B. Jordan here) make for compelling stories alone.
Luckily for Creed III, the movie is able to double-down on this emotional weight by adding Jonathan Majors to the fold. He’s outstanding in this, balancing the forces of being both personable and sympathetic with a gnarlier side hellbent on gaining back what is his from Adonis.
Creed III digs deeper into Adonis Creed’s (Michael B. Jordan) past, revealing a tough childhood riddled with instances of being marginalized by race, wealth, and social status. His childhood friend Damien is a boxing prodigy but loses it all in order to protect Adonis from the possibility of going to jail for a street fight.
Flash forward to present day, where Adonis is a boxing champion and worldwide mogul. Damien (now an adult, played by Jonathan Majors) seeks him out for an opportunity to get back on his feet. Seeing the world pass him by, Damien relies on cheap fighting tactics to quickly rise to the top – leading to a final showdown between the two to settle the original score planted decades prior.
That’s a general synopsis for the story, which attempts to flesh out a more rounded character at the center of this trilogy. Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Major’s friendship in the story holds it together, because while they’re destined to fight in the boxing ring, the real fight starts from the very beginning as the two are constantly outdueling one another for screen presence.
Reviews for Films from the Rocky Franchise
It’s a two-hander that sits with some of the best in this expansive universe. Stallone and Carl Weathers may still be the best because they were offered multiple films to build upon one another, but there’s something to the charisma of both Jordan and Majors to elevates this movie whenever the two of them are on screen.
Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Bianca – music icon and Adonis’ wife – and she’s as multi-dimensional here as she is on the previous two installments. She’s not given nearly as much to do this time around (because the movie emphasizes Adonis as much as ever) but she excels at the few lines that offer Creed III a deeper emotional punch.
There are a few underbaked ideas, from Adonis and Biance occasionally scolding their daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) for choosing violence to settle disputes, to the paper-thin concept that Michael B. Jordan is portraying a weathered boxing champ. You have to suspend your belief a bit in order to sink into this world, but it’s not hard to when the camerawork and lead performances are this captivating.
And the final boxing match between Adonis and Damien will surely turn away some viewers. The movie shifts during the closing rounds, focusing deep within the character’s backstories and experiences to craft one of the most unique sequences in any of the Creed movies. I thought it worked, but that might be because I tend to reward points to auteurs trying to break the mold set before them. It’s certainly a unique stylistic choice, but I remember it taking my breath away when I saw it in theaters.
And who knows if there will be more Creed movies. This seemed to close the book on Michael B. Jordan’s character, but there’s a repeatability with this formula that I’m sure they’ll revisit down the line.
Watch Creed III on VOD
Creed III Movie Cast and Credits
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor
Jonathan Majors as Damien Anderson
Phylicia Rashād as Mary-Anne Creed
Mila Davis-Kent as Amara Creed
Wood Harris as Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers
Director: Michael B. Jordan
Cinematography: Kramer Morgenthau
Editor: Tyler Nelson
Composer: Joseph Shirley
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