Creed III

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Creed III
dir Michael B Jordan
scr Keenan Coogler, Zach Baylin
prd Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Ryan Coogler
with Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Mila Davis-Kent, Jose Benavidez, Selenis Leyva, Florian Munteanu, Thaddeus James Mixson Jr, Spence Moore II, Anthony Bellew
release US/UK 3.Mar.23
23/US Warners 1h56

jordan thompson rashad
Creed 2015 Creed II 2018

Is it streaming?

jordan and majors
Strong acting and filmmaking almost make up for the way this sequel relentlessly celebrates toxic masculinity. Perhaps it's meant to be cautionary, but each plot point hinges on men who would rather throw a punch than share feelings. Still, as the narrative follows its well-worn path, Michael B Jordan shines as an actor. And it's clear that as an ambitious first-time director, he has a genuine gift for storytelling.
It's been a few years, and now-retired boxing champ Adonis Creed (Jordan) is training up-and-coming fighters. He lives in wealthy bliss with musician wife Bianca (Thompson) and their sparky daughter Amara (Davis-Kent), who aspires to be a boxer, while Adonis' mother Mary-Anne (Rashad) is recovering from a recent stroke. Then his childhood friend Damian (Majors) turns up after 18 years in prison, boldly announcing that he'd like to take on current heavyweight champion Felix (Benavidez), who trains with Duke (Harris) at Adonis' gym. But of course Damian really wants to fight it out with Adonis.
As the script lays out the narrative in the most obvious way imaginable, it reduces Damian to a thuggish villain while giving women little to do but stand by their man. Thankfully, the actors and Jordan's direction add layers of interest that suggest a movie that could have been much more provocative. So the film is rousing in all the right places, from earthy comical moments to vivid emotions and of course a beefy training montage that includes punching a tree, pulling an airplane and summiting the Hollywood Hills.

Jordan's terrific on-screen presence has matured to reveal a sharp sense of Adonis' history. He also just about manages to sell a final act personality shift, going from an intelligent man who adores his family to a hardened tough guy who can only confront his past by returning to the ring. His chemistry with the underused Thompson is strong, and he also has a visceral connection with the magnetically offbeat Major's Damian, before they devolve into hotheaded brutes.

Beneath the predictable story are fascinating observations about the dangers of ignoring a difficult past. And questions of ambition and fate swirl around intriguingly. So it's frustrating that the screenwriters simplistically have these men face their issues by coming to blows, rather than talking them through like grown-ups. Sure, fighting is more cinematic, and the script does get there in the end, but by then it has already delivered the wrong message.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 28.Feb.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall