Creed III

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In this continuation, Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been retired for three years. He’s living a life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills. His singer-songwriter wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) is a hotshot music producer. Together they are raising their young daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), who was born deaf. Donnie runs his gym Delphi Boxing Academy and trains his protégé, world champion Felix “El Guerrero” Chavez (José Benavidez Jr.). Out of the past emerges a childhood friend named Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Dame was an aspiring boxer. However, a shared indiscretion in their youth saw Dame locked up in prison for 18 years (he had a prior criminal record). Donnie managed to run away and escape punishment. Now released, Dame expresses his dream of a title shot against the world champion. Plus, he feels his friend owes him one. Donnie refuses at first. Then guilt weighs on him, so he gives in. Dame and Chavez go at it in the ring. Now, what are the odds that the former friends will eventually go toe to toe too?

Creed III is still part of the Rocky franchise. In that sense, this is Rocky 9 or Rocky IX if using the traditional nomenclature. However, actor Sylvester Stallone is nowhere to be found for the first time. His absence is never explained. Although he is alluded to when Dame says to Donnie, “If Apollo Creed can take a chance on some underdog, why can’t you?” Dame is a menacing presence, and as portrayed by Jonathan Majors, he is a suitable villain with experiences that serves this narrative well.

There’s tension between the two sides. You have this raw individual fresh out of jail hungry for glory vs. a wealthy and famous success thriving in contented prosperity. Clubber Lang, er uh, I mean Dame, taunts that his buddy has gone soft and is a coward. The setup bears more than a passing resemblance to Rocky III. The account even includes the death of a beloved figure and yet another training montage. The screenplay by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin won’t win any awards for innovation.

But I’ll defend the picture. You don’t come to these movies for originality. It’s about personalities. There’s enough dramatic weight to these interactions to hold our interest. A cloud of vengeance hangs over Creed III. The screenplay frames fighting as a double-edged sword that can infect your being or turn you into a celebrity. Dame believes Donnie was handed the life that was meant for him. That anger fuels a rage that has morphed into a boxer out for revenge. He’s clearly gone down a very dark path.

I was absorbed by their history together. Michael B. Jordan — making his directorial debut — and Jonathan Majors are compelling entertainers that sell these stock characters. That’s so key in a story like this. There are several subplots. Donnie and Bianca’s daughter Amara is developing a thirst for fighting. The child smacks a classmate right in the face for ripping her artwork. Amara’s parents argue over how to channel this desire. I spy a future reboot entitled Amara Creed on the horizon. More importantly, the brawls deliver. The climatic tournament at Dodger Stadium is a visual display of pugilistic prowess. At one point, the audience disappears, and it’s just two boxers alone, one-on-one, in the ring. The bout is exceptionally well choreographed. And ultimately, this is why you come to a boxing movie.


6 Responses to “Creed III”

  1. It’s strange. It has the same “Rocky” formula that all the movies have, but I quite enjoyed it. I will say, I thought the training montage song was awful, but it didn’t ruin the movie. You watch these for the final fight and that didn’t disappoint. 3 1/2 ⭐️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ok so “Eye of the Tiger” or an iconic instrumental like “Gonna Fly Now” are hard to top but this didn’t even offer a lesser memorable effort like “Burning Heart”, “Living in America” or “No Easy Way Out”. The movie gets a B+. The music an F.


  2. Eric Robert Wilkinson Says:

    I was so tired of the trailer I was not looking forward to this… so I was shocked at how goosebumpy and caught up I was by the midway point. I really did care what was happening and that was thanks to two strong performances a likable kid actor and some gorgeous filmmaking. Behind the camera Jordan is now a talent to watch

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s really regrettable how Stallone’s absence is explained away by a creative difference in how Jordan chose to take the franchise. He’s not in the movie at all and I believe the studio basically cut him out of all capacities. I’d hope he’d at least watch and maybe enjoy some of it — this is still his franchise, in my opinion, but it would seem this is not at all the movie he would have done so it makes sense the character’s absence in the story would go unmentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read Stallone didn’t care for the darker tone of the script. It’s still respectful though. I do feel like the Creed series feels less like part of the Rocky movies and more like a spin-off so Stallone’s absence — while regrettable — isn’t a deal breaker for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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