Starring Michael B. Jordan, Johnathan Majors, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, and Phylicia Rashad
As Michael B. Jordan steps into the director’s chair, the third installment of the “Creed” franchise gains emotional maturity. While Sylvester Stallone sits this one out, the 2023 secret weapon Jonathan Majors (Last Black Man in San Francisco, Devotion) gives the film its credence. Do we need a third film about Adonis Creed going through life out of his father’s and Rocky’s shadow? No, but Jordan, now a superstar of his own making, uses this as both practice and a showcase for what his career has in store. In many ways, “Creed III” is more of the same: two major boxing fights, the centerpiece, and the climax, with flashbacks, pain, and, of course, the predictable outcome. Jordan is smart enough to lean into Major’s acting talent for much of the film and to get creative with how the fight scenes are shown.
Like most trilogies, you have to go back to the beginning and learn something about the main character that was never mentioned before. Here it’s the rough childhood of Adonis and his best friend, Damian(Majors). Bad judgment from the two teens ruined one’s life, leaving Damian behind bars for 18 years. As the past returns from the shadows, it finds world champion Adonis Creed (Jordan) retired and training the next generation of champions. He focuses now on his wife (Tessa Thompson) and daughter instead of body blows and broken bones. That shifts when Damian returns, opening old wounds.
Mainstream audiences are just getting caught up with what Jonathan Majors fans have known for a while — that Hollywood has only scratched the surface of his talent.
The camera work is striking, and the editing is sharp. “Creed III” has all the bells and whistles, but the selling point is the oiled-up muscles standing in the ring: two actors representing Hollywood’s future. Jordan’s entry into directing holds a lot of promise, and while this isn’t some award-worthy debut, it showcases what he has learned from working with Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” “Creed”). Mainstream audiences are just getting caught up with what Jonathan Majors fans have known for a while — that Hollywood has only scratched the surface of his talent. His second time in the last three weeks starring in a trilogy and as a villain. Thankfully he is given much more to work here than “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
“Creed III” doesn’t land “Warrior” (the 2011 MMA film starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) status, but it’s more ambitious than “Creed II.” While pitting two blood brothers against each other for a knockout fight is hardly a unique plot device, it’s undoubtedly one that sells tickets. One of the script’s weakest plotlines involves Phylicia Rashad and how abruptly her characters’ scenes are. The training montages reach for a new ground but provide nothing more than a bathroom break. The film’s final shot likely answers whether we will see these characters again.
Jordan is a steady director, while Majors flexes his acting muscles.