“Creed III,” the ninth edition in the “Rocky” series, is an exciting and well-directed sports-drama film.
“Creed III,” directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan, is the first “Rocky” franchise movie without Sylvester Stallone in his iconic Rocky role. The story follows the three-year retirement of heavyweight boxing champion Adonis Creed, played by Jordan, after defeating his rival “Pretty” Ricky Conlan.
Now, instead of defending his champion title from hungry boxers, Creed is found tea-partying with his deaf daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), supporting his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), in her music production career and helping run a fighting gym, overseeing the next generation of champion boxers.
Just as everything in Creed’s life seems to be running smoothly, it all takes a left turn when a forgotten figure of his past re-appears — Damian Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors.
When Creed was young, before the world knew his name, he and Anderson were inseparable.
Anderson served as an older brother figure for Creed during their shared time in an LA group foster home. Getting in trouble and dreaming about becoming boxing superstars was all they did — until everything changed.
After the two have a violent run-in with a previously abusive foster parent, Anderson gets busted by the cops and imprisoned while Creed is able to escape.
For 18 years, Anderson watches as Creed lives his dream life of becoming heavyweight champion.
Now, fresh out of prison, Anderson is back on the street and wants a second chance at his dream.
Creed shows Anderson some pity and invites him to train in his gym. However, this is when Anderson’s aggressive, unquenched hunger for the champion title becomes evident. He shows that he is willing to sacrifice anything — relationships, Creed’s trust, his own dignity and other people’s well-being — to become the champ, and it’s up to Creed to step back into the ring and stop him.
“Creed III” makes sure not to stray too far from the franchise. Yes, like all the “Rocky” movies, we have the classic training montage of Creed running on the beach, lifting weights, aggressively sparring and admiring himself in a shirtless mirror shot, all with a triumphant hip-hop theme blasting in the background.
It checked all of the boxes of a Rocky movie, but the ending was way too predictable. Creed, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and a student of Rocky, was facing off against an older, inexperienced fighter who just got released from prison.
On the other hand, Jordan’s directing is absolutely on-point throughout the movie, as well as the acting.
For example, he uses a seemingly straightforward scene — Creed and Anderson having a slightly awkward reunion dinner — to create a complex narrative. The change in tempo, the tone of voice and the choice to linger on an actor’s face for a few extra beats than necessary add so much subtext and meaning. The interaction’s power stems from what it doesn’t show: what these characters don’t specifically state but what the viewer can yet sense.
Although it may seem like a movie about big guys smacking the crap out of each other, a lot of detail is actually put into the way they smack the crap out of each other.
Creed, the more notable and experienced fighter, uses a style based on timing and precise hits beautifully contrasted against Anderson’s wild, powerful swings. A difference in style this large has not been seen before in previous “Creed” movies, so this was a breath of fresh air.
I personally enjoyed the movie despite its setback of being predictable. The fight scenes were well-detailed, the directing was phenomenal and the plot was unique. Sylvester Stallone was not needed to make this an excellent addition to the “Rocky” franchise.