TL;DR – Creed III is electric, every punch matters, every emotion hits, and I was captivated from start to finish.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.
Creed III Review –
If there was ever a film to remind you not to judge a book by its cover, it is the first Creed film. Creed I was a film that, on the surface, felt like it would not amount to much. A spin-off of a film series that itself had already gone well past its prime. But boy, was I wrong. That first Creed was an emotional punch to the stomach while also being a technical masterclass in how to film boxing for cinema. Then they followed it up with Creed II, which came out swinging just as much as the first. Now, Creed III is one of my most anticipated films this year as we see if they can pull off a hat trick.
So to set the scene, since winning his rematch with Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been going from strength to strength on and off the ring, especially in his family life with Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) and their daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). But when he finally retires, his past comes back to haunt him. When Donnie (Thaddeus James Mixson Jr) was young, he had a friend Dame (Spence Moore II). But, unlike Donnie, Dame never got a lifeline and has spent a long time in jail. Now he is out, Dame (Jonathan Majors) is looking to show the world that he deserves to be in the ring, that it was not handed to him, and now former friends find each other on opposite sides.
I was interested in where they would go in this film for two reasons. The first is that Creed II had a thematically resolute ending, with each of the three leading families finding a resolution to their emotional quandaries at the film’s end. Indeed, this is the first of the movies where Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) does not appear. So how do we move on when we have already reached a resolution? Then there was the question about how Michael B. Jordan would bring his own voice, given this is his debut as a director. In interviews, he has talked about bringing his love of anime to the film, and you can bet I wanted to see that come to pass.
Now, I should come into this review being clear that I liked the first two Creed films a lot, so I am coming into this review from the position of does Creed 3 live up to the other films, and well, I think it might outdo them a little. Part of that is because, in this film, Donnie has to navigate out from his own legacy and not the impact of others. In the first film, Donnie was walking under his late father’s legacy, and in the second, it was duelling masters and their pasts. But here, we have a world and a dilemma that is entirely of Donnie’s making, at least as far as he sees it. This immediately grounds the story in a personal realm that both Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors revel in.
I have seen a lot of films where the protagonist and antagonist are meant to have some sort of personal feud, but it felt lacking. This is not the case here because you feel that weight of history, or roads not taken, in every interaction. A wave of guilt hits Donnie and maybe blinds him a little bit. But that guilt feels real in the situation. When Donnie and Bianca have difficulties, it is because Donnie is struggling to work through his past trauma that is being actively needled. It does not feel like a forced fight or a forced reconnection. It is these personal touches that elevate every part of the film.
Indeed, family is at the core of this film which is good because it meant a lot more time with Tessa Thompson and Mila Davis-Kent this time around. I say this because Mila Davis-Kent steals every scene she is in. Because family is at the heart of the film, it becomes a source of strength and destabilisation as the different factors come into play. You see it how Donnie is a manager, in how he works with his friends, and in those moments of betrayal. It leads to some parts of the film that emotionally hit you in the gut as if you walked out into that ring.
I say that, but I am not sure it quite lines up, given the sheer physicality that exists in this film. Every actor that steps out in that ring has an immediate impact. They command the ring and stake their claim to belong in that world. There is only so much a training montage can gloss over before you have to step up, and everyone steps up. On the fights, there felt like there were fewer of them this time around. However, each individual battle now had more importance. How each contest was framed narratively and filmed on set leads to the audience caring about every punch thrown. There is a clear stylistic choice to how each of the fights was constructed, with one moment in the third act leading to me audibly gasping with a decision they made. It shows a commitment to every level of filmmaking, from the story to the acting, effects, editing, and more, that you become captivated in those moments.
Were there problems with the film? One plot point involves you noticing two different pictures, and if you blink and miss one, then some of the character beats may feel a bit off. Also, Ludwig Göransson is a tough act to follow. But then these almost feel nit-picky in the grand scheme of things.
In the end, do we recommend Creed III? Absolutely! It was a film that captured me in those first few moments and didn’t let me go until the credits rolled. This is one of the best debuts I have seen from a director in the last year, as Michael B. Jordan shows he is a powerhouse both in front and behind the camera. If you liked Creed III, we would recommend to you Prey.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Creed III
Directed by – Michael B. Jordan
Story by – Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler & Zach Baylin
Screenplay by – Keenan Coogler & Zach Baylin
Based on – Rocky by Sylvester Stallone
Music by – Joseph Shirley
Cinematography by – Kramer Morgenthau
Edited by – Tyler Nelson & Jessica Baclesse
Production/Distribution Companies – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Proximity Media, Outlier Society, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures & Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring – Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Mila Davis-Kent, Thaddeus James Mixson Jr, Spence Moore II, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Anthony Bellew, Jose Benavidez, Selenis Leyva, Thaddeus J. Mixson & Canelo Álvarez with Patrice’ Boogie’ Harris, Ann’ Mitt Queen’ Najjar, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran, Lorenzo ‘Nightmare’ Jones, Kenny Bayless, Jimmy Lennon Jr., Russell Mora, Al Bernstein, Mauro Ranallo, Kimberly Davis, David Diamante, Tony Weeks, Christopher Lee Mannix, Stephen A. Smith, Fernanda Gomez & Kehlani
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13
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