CREED 3 l Warner Pictures Canada | March 3, 2023
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad
Directed By: Michael B. Jordan
After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian – a fighter who has nothing to lose.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Creed III continues the already excellent series with another gripping entry brought to life by two mesmerizing performances of Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors, resulting in a crowd pleasing film that will have you glued to the screen.
The first two Creed films are excellent sports dramas revolving around legacy as we see the torch of the Rocky franchise handed down from Rocky to Adonis Creed. And while Sylvester Stallone does not reprise his role as Rocky in the series’s third entry, the brilliance is not lost as the shift focuses from legacy to Adonis’s past catching up with him in what is easily the best film of the year so far.
Adonis Creed finished his boxing career at the top of the sport and is now thriving with his family and running his own boxing gym. But when Damian, a long lost childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, resurfaces, Adonis takes Damian under his wing to try and help him restart his life after being released from prison. But it soon becomes apparent to Adonis that Damian’s intentions are not to reconnect with Adonis but challenge everything he has built, forcing Adonis to return to the ring and face his past.
There is a significant change in focus in this entry of the Creed series compared to the first two films. The first two films spent a lot of focus on boxing and training throughout, leaning heavily into the sports backdrop of the story. But this entry is a far more character driven story revolving around Adonis and his past upbringing before being taken in by Mary-Anne, leaving the sports focus for the latter half of the film. It’s a personal story of past regret and childhood memories resurfacing, driving a competition between two grown men who used to be brothers. As a result, the first half has a slower pace despite being absolutely captivating thanks to the performances, before the sports focus that fans of the series know and love takes center stage during the second half. While this may lose the attention of some audiences, the payoff for the latter half of the film is incredibly rewarding as the sports storyline is infused with a gripping emotional current that will have you holding your breath in fear as Adonis prepares for the most personal fight of his life.
Bringing to life the film are the lead performances of Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors, who are both breathtaking in their own ways. Jordan’s soulful and tender portrayal of Adonis creates the undercurrent of the entire film as Jordan personifies Adonis’s internal struggle over the guilt he feels neglecting Damian for years despite being thick as thieves growing up. But when the tables are turned on Adonis, there is a fight driven by the love for his family that brews over and brings back the scrappy Adonis that audiences fell in love with over the first two films. Once again, it is an outstanding performance from Jordan that ranks his Adonis among some of cinema’s best sports characters.
On the other hand, we’re only two months into 2023 and it is already the year of Majors! Majors is a towering presence over the entire film. There is an unhinged yet controlled rage that Majors brings to Damian that bubbles just beneath the surface for the first half of the film, forcing you to watch in fear as you watch Adonis is blinded by his past guilt to see Damian for the man he is. And when Major lets that rage out, it's a truly shocking and impactful moment that changes the tone of the entire film. From there, Majors makes for the most formidable opponent for Jordan’s Adonis, as the two clash both physically and mentally, battling out the demons from their past.
As with the previous two films, the supporting performances continue to be great. Tessa Thompson once again is radiant as Adonis’s wife Bianca, creating some of the most powerful moments of the film with Jordan as she tries to break down his walls and find out what truly happened in his past. Phylicia Rashad is once again brilliant as Adonis’s mother Mary-Anne, delivering some of the film's most emotionally charged moments that will bring a tear to your eye. Then there is young Mila Davis-Kent as Adonis’s daughter Amara, and what a young talent she is! Every second she is on screen, she is bubbling with an infectious energy that brings out Adonis’s more tender, fatherly side as their beautiful father daughter relationship plays out on screen.
Taking over the director role is Jordan, in his feature directorial debut, and it’s a brilliant first outing for him as a director. He captures the emotions of the screenplay, allowing the characters’ internal struggles and pain to soar on screen, while showcasing the epic sports aspects of the story with a great theatrical flair. His direction of the boxing sequences captures the sport with a raw brutality and intensity that has not previously been captured on camera before, stripping it down without the fanfare of a musical score to let the emotions take over during the sequences. The sound editing allows each blow to hit the audience, with an interesting influence from anime during the slow motion sequences, to create the film’s most memorable moments.
Compared to the rest of the films in the Creed series, this entry is missing the rousing emotion of the previous two, which can be attributed to Rocky's absence which also removed his iconic theme music that was used during those film’s most triumphant moments. But this allows for Creed III to stand on its own feet, proving that even without Rocky that these are great films. So while it is my least favourite of the three films, it is still absolutely exceptional from start to finish. Emotionally charged with spectacular performances from Michael B. Jordan, marking a stellar directorial debut from Jordan that delivers some of the most exhilarating boxing sequences ever captured on camera, Creed III is an absolute knockout that makes for a perfect trilogy.