This is the third Creed movie to come out and the ninth movie in the Rocky franchise to date, with this marking the first film that is a complete handover of the cast from the previous franchise. Sylvester Stalone does not appear in this movie but he does have producer credit. Similarly, Ryan Coogler was not directing this movie, but gets a producer credit this time around, leaving directing duties to lead actor, Michael B. Jordan, this being Jordan’s first directing job, though he didn’t write the script. That was down to Keegan Coogler and Zach Baylin and was overseen by Ryan Coogler.
The story centres around retired world champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), settling into running his gym and boxing promotions. He has an encounter with an old friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) who spends the last several years in prison due to an incident that Adonis was also involved in but escaped jail time. He manipulates the situation to get his title fight and ends up winning the fight, forcing a confrontation between himself and Adonis.
Creed III is definitely a very good film in many regards. Despite the fact that this is Jordan’s first time directing, he does manage to get excellent performances out. Many cast members from the previous films come back to reprise their roles, most noticeably Tessa Thompson and even the two real-life boxers, Florian Munteanu as Drago and Tony Bello as Pretty Ricky. It amazes me that the teams behind these films can get good performances out of boxers with not as much acting experience. The champion under Adonis, Felix Chavez is played by José Benavidez Jr.
The story itself has some interesting core themes- it’s mainly about toxic masculinity and how a lot of young and middle-aged men struggle to open up about their feelings. It comes back to one of the lines from the first Creed movie, ‘Before you can get in the ring to fight someone else, you have to beat the man in the mirror’. I won’t spoil just how it dives into those themes, but it does an excellent job and really hammers home the distance between these two friends who grew up in the same area but are now polar opposites of each other with Damien believing that Adonis stole the life that belonged to him.
I was impressed by how they made these events feel like actual title fights, aided by the fact that the product placement for showtime allowed them to get the same sort of editing and shots that you would get from a pay-per-view event. If there’s one thing that these films have nailed it’s that boxing has borrowed a lot from wrestling with the brilliantly ridiculous over-the-top entrances.
It also helps that this film gives Adonis a new character arc without wiping out his previous arcs from the other films. With adding a new layer to it, I’m wondering if this should be the last film of the franchise since I’m not sure where else they can go with him.
It’s a film that once again does a very good job tapping into raw emotion, but I don’t think it succeeds quite as well as the previous movies in some parts, and I think that that’s something that is going to only get worse if these films decide to go on. That being said, there are still some plot threads that felt unresolved, particularly the one involving Adonis’ daughter being bullied in school and getting into trouble for fighting, it does get a sort of resolution, but it felt a bit bolted-on in some parts. That being said, props to the team for their attention to detail with the sign language used in the film.
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