Review: Creed III

Creed III is the return of the underdog turned champion, Adonis Creed. It also marks the debut of Michael B Jordan as director.

Following the events of Creed II (2018), Adonis (Michael B Jordan) has reached the peak of his career and decided to retire from the sport of boxing. He traded in prize fighting to spend time raising his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), working at the boxing gym with Duke (Wood Harris), supporting his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and her music career.

Adonis bumps into a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy Damian (Jonathan Majors). After spending two decades in prison, Damian is eager to bet back in the ring and show he still has some gas left in the tank. Adonis agrees to help Damian, but their rekindled relationship opens old wounds and it’s unclear if Damian is a friend or foe. The two men find themselves on a collision to settle their differences, inside and outside the ring.

Creed III follows familiar themes seen in sports movies like a champion pulled out retirement for one last fight or an old friend turning into a foe. The film operates like a drama with some sports elements sprinkled in more than a sports movie with dramatic beats. At its core, Creed III is a film about conflict resolution that’s explored through Adonis and Dame’s dynamic, Bianca and Adonis’ relationship, and even Amara’s conflict at school.

The best part of this film is Jonathan Majors as Dame. Majors is a star if you haven’t already noticed. He jumps off the screen and is believable as a friend, bitter up and comer, and a formidable foe for Adonis. He sells every scene using his facial expressions, posture. The best part of Majors’ performance is the way his speech pattern changes. The way Dame talks when him and Adonis reconnect is different from the Dame that calls into to First Take to trash talk Adonis or the Dame celebrating his big win on the beach. It’s a tiny thing Majors does that makes his character feel authentic to the audience.

In Michael B Jordan’s directorial debut, he makes interesting choices during the film’s fighting sequences. The anime influence has been discussed and it easily recognized during the opening scene. The influences are more obvious during the final fight sequence. I found the artistic interpretation during the fight fascinating, but it may take some viewers out of the film.

The one downside in Creed III is the screenplay. The relationship between Adonis and Dame and an exploration into Dame’s character is barely showcased. With a runtime just under two hours, the film fast tracks Dame’s career and the final fight with Adonis. There’s very little time focused on how these two men decided this was the best way to resolve their differences.

If you’re a fan of the Creed franchise, you’ll most likely enjoy it. It’s a slight departure in style and storytelling than the previous two films, but still feels very much like a film that belongs in the franchise.

Grade: B