"Creed III" Film Review

Creed III (2023) - IMDb

"Creed III" Film Review

Rating: 4/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson 

    When "Creed III" was announced, fans were excited yet nervous due to the absence of Sylvester Stallone's iconic character, Rocky Balboa. Rocky has been present in every movie in this franchise, so it seemed almost impossible to make a film without including him. However, star and first-time director, Michael B. Jordan, shows how much he loves and values this franchise and this character he brought to life, delivering a great boxing movie that fits perfectly in the franchise and continues on the story and legacy of Adonis Creed. 

    In the second film, Adonis already proved himself to be a world-class boxer, winning multiple titles and championships, including the heavyweight championship. Now, seven years after his dramatic showdown against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), Adonis is ready to hang up the gloves for good and settle down with his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and their daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), who was born deaf. Outside of the ring, Adonis has become ultra-famous, pulling in sponsorship deals, as well as owning and operating the gym his father used to train at. 

    However, everything is flipped on his head with the introduction of Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), who was Adonis' childhood friend. He has spent the past eighteen years locked up, and wants to reconnect with his old friend now that he is out. What he reveals though is that he wants a title shot, and he needs Adonis' help setting it up for him. When Adonis does set it up for him, he soon realizes that the Damien he knew isn't the one that is standing before him now, and his livelihood and family is threatened by this new personal threat. Will this force Adonis to come out of retirement to face his longtime friend - turned foe?

    The first thing the viewer will notice about this installment in the Rocky franchise is how different the style and direction is. The first film was directed by Ryan Coogler and the second was helmed by Steven Caple Jr. In both of those films, the direction and vision these two directors had were very similar to one another, both in terms of character interactions and the stylized fighting inside of the ring. With this one, however, Jordan brings his own take on this character and this story. How he directs is very in your face and has a very nitty-gritty aspect to it. This is the first film where we really see the characters in the bad neighborhoods of Los Angeles and exploring different aspects, such as gangs and gun violence. It served as a very nice change of pace, allowing the viewer to see the different backgrounds that these characters come from.

    At the same time, Jordan's take on the fighting inside the ring is very distinct and different from what we have ever seen. He has said he was inspired by anime and different superpowers the characters have, and he wanted to bring that to this film. I certainly think he did that, and the influence of anime is heavily present here. From the camera angles focusing on the eyes of the warriors to the super slo-mo shots, he definitely put his own spin on what he wanted to see in a boxing film. At the same time, in the final fight, there is a huge metaphorical moment, which I think was genius to add. The only bad thing about this is it won't be for everyone. Leaving the theater last night, some people were saying it took them out of the moment of the fight. In my opinion, I applaud Jordan for doing something so different, and I genuinely enjoyed and appreciated that moment in the movie.

    This is the third time Jordan has embodied this character, and he is as good as he's ever been. One thing I noticed is that he gives it his all in every movie he is in, and it is a joy to watch on the screen when an actor cares about their role and the film they're starring in. Especially since Jordan is directing this film, which is already a massive achievement by itself. The fellow actors around him do a fantastic job as well, including Thompson, Davis-Kent, and Wood Harris. I would also say the young Davis-Kent steals the show in every scene she is in. She's adorable and has perfect chemistry with Jordan. I honestly couldn't imagine anyone better to play this character, and I'm positive she has a bright and fruitful career ahead of her. 

    I do want to mention Major's performance in this role, and how he was fully able to steal the show in every scene he is in. Majors sort of came out of nowhere and is now the next big baddie in the MCU and is playing this mean and cruel antagonist in a film of this stature. I give him major props for everything he has accomplished so far, and he just proves time and time again how great of an actor he is. I've seen Majors give many interviews and watched his interactions with other celebrities and fans, and he seems like the sweetest guy. So how he is able to pull off these horrible and cruel villains is just very impressive to me. 

    In terms of Stallone's absence, it is not really felt throughout the movie. Sure, I did wish he was in this film, but I don't think it held the film back at all for what it was doing. I applaud the filmmakers for being able to work around this road bump and still deliver a great installment to the Rocky franchise.

    For Jordan's directorial debut, I think he did a fantastic job. This movie is thrilling, exciting, and heartfelt from beginning to end. All the actors give it their all, and it is obvious they all care about what they are making. Sure, I do wish Stallone came back as the Italian Stallion, but I appreciate and love everything Jordan and his cast did with this movie, and I really do hope we get another sequel helmed by Jordan in the near future