REVIEW: “CREED III” (2023) MGM

Adonis Creed isn’t the only person returning here as I myself, am also making a return of sorts. Having been out for months due to Long Covid, I am slowly making it back to screenings and reviews. There is still a bit of challenges on the road ahead, and I am starting slow – but what a great start to have with this film. Let’s also get the talked about elephant out of the room right off – Sylvester Stallone is not in this movie nor did he have any part in it’s making, making it clear to all. There was a big hoopla between him and Irwin Winkler, you can google it if you need to know more. Now on with the review…

Michael B. Jordan not only comes back as Adonis Creed, but makes an impressive directorial debut in the latest of the Creed post-Rocky series, delivering what might be the best Creed yet and a sequel that just might surpass some of it’s predecessor’s Rocky franchise films.

We all know Apollo’s backstory, or at least we thought we did as the opening of the Creed III begins with a flashback to 2005 and a young Adonis (Alex Henderson), plays the younger Adonis and his pal Dame (played by Spence Moore II as a child/Jonathan Majors as an adult). It’s clear that Dame is a boxing prodigy and on his way to the life that Adonis ends up having. Fast forward 18 years and the storyline shows us a retired Adonis Creed who is now a stay-at-home dad with his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), and successful wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who is now a music producer. One day while at the gym he started along with his trainer Duke (Wood Harris), he runs into an his old acquaintance Damian (Jonathan Majors). Dame, as he is better known, was a better fighter when they were kids, with a brighter future than his own, but they got in trouble and Dame is just fresh out from a 18 year jail sentence. Now that he is out, he wants what he feels is owed to him, which is essentially everything Creed has including a chance at the Heavyweight title of the world. In a storyline that not even Don King himself could create, Creed ends up giving him his chance, but it’s apparent he quickly wishes he didn’t as once the demon has been unleashed on the boxing landscape, the same man who unleashed may be the only man who can stop him.

There is a lot of story to be told during the first third of this film and For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go any further into detail, but I’m sure you can guess where that heads. But as we move along into what each and every Rocky or Creed film truely focuses on, and that is the boxing. Just as Stallone directed himself in several Rocky sequels, Jordan takes command and improves on the formula in unexpected ways. While something could be said that as a first-time director, Jordan relies too much on CGI auditoriums to capture the vast crowd on fight night, but the fight coordination itself makes up for the artifical backdrop in a huge way. There is a slow-motion strategy where Duke’s coaching or Creed’s eyes identify weaknesses in the opponent, and we as the viewer, feel as though we are completely involved in moment-by-moment, blow by blow with them. As well, Jordan gives us an upfront show in the tactical maneuvers behind the sport, that many just don’t realize is such a big part of it all. In probably one of the most beautifully filmed as well as probably one of it’s harshest, is when the combination of backstory and present story hit their mark when Donnie and Dame reach the emotional zenith of their match, everything else around them fades away. All at once, fog surrounds the ring, and the screaming fans disappear. The opponents see each other as children, and literal prison bars appear, locking them together in the ring. It’s a thing of beauty.

Acting wise, Jordan shines, and not just behind the camera, but he also delivers another great performance as Adonis. At this point, it feels like Adonis is a part of Jordan and vice versa. It’s his character, and he’s grown well past the days of being in Apollo Creed’s shadow. But make no mistake about it, the absolute steal of the film is Jonathan Majors performance. It goes above and beyond with layers to his story — more than any other villain in this franchise — and he’s more than just a part of one of Rocky or Apollo’s past opponents. He IS that guy and brings this character to life like no other.

With it’s bit of a cheesy Rocky-esque opening, this film quickly takes a twist into finding its own form, Whether this is the final time that we get to see Adonis Creed throws a punch or not, Creed III is the perfect end to this trilogy, if it is the end that is.

Grade: B

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

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