Movie Review: Creed III

Review by: Andrew Little

Directed by: Michael B. Jordan

Rating: 3.5/5 

Creed III marked two major firsts for the Rocky/Creed franchise. It was actor Michael B. Jordan’s debut feature film as a director and the first movie in the series without Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. Despite the drama that surrounded Stallone’s absence,the film did not suffer without his iconic character. 

Creed III understands what has made the Rocky franchise so successful, as it is a character study of Adonis Creed. It puts his family and relationships front and center as Adonis is forced to confront his past demons. The boxing serves as a metaphor for the interpersonal conflicts, and Jordan even makes some stylistic choices in the fight scenes to visualize this. He cited anime as a major influence in the choreography and shot framing. This clear directorial vision is on display throughout the entire film. After portraying Adonis three times, it is clear that Jordan truly understands the character. 

The journey we have seen Creed on in the past two films is expertly contrasted with the film’s antagonist, Damian, a figure from Adonis’ past with unfinished business. Damian, in a phenomenal performance from Jonathan Majors, is one of the franchise’s best adversaries. Majors effortlessly switches his acting through subtle changes. He can be sympathetic yet menacing, charming yet intimidating, and vulnerable yet dangerous. This complexity, in addition to his very personal history with Creed, drives the story.

Unfortunately, the film takes several shortcuts in its screenplay to progress Damian’s rise. This cheapens the emotional impact at the film’s climax, as the audience is forced to question how it got there rather than soaking in the moment. The passage of time is also unclear at points in the story. A few additional scenes would have clarified the film’s logic and built up the tension leading to the final boxing match.

The film rushes its third act, which can be attributed to some of the plot conveniences, and sidelines characters like Tessa Thompson’s Bianca, Adonis’ wife, and their young daughter Amara. Creed’s relationship with his family is at the heartbeat of the first half of the film but then set aside until the resolution.

Ultimately, Creed III is a worthy sequel to its acclaimed predecessors with some weaknesses in its screenplay. It contains some of the franchise’s best action sequences, thanks to Jordan’s directorial flair, and is anchored by two terrific lead performances. The film hits on all of the emotional notes audiences expect from a Rocky movie and delivers another crowd-pleaser.