Creed III ★★★★
Michael B. Jordan
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Mila Davis-Kent
Proving the titular hero can stand on his own two feet, Creed III struts into the ring with lead actor Michael B. Jordan at the helm, this time without Stallone’s Rocky in a sequel that does not drop its guard.
Now a retired heavyweight champion of the world, Adonis Creed (Jordan) is content having reached the height of fame and fortune, until the sins of his past come back to haunt him in the form of Jonathan Majors' Damien Anderson. Having been locked away for 18 years, Anderson seeks to claim the title by any means necessary, even if it means tormenting Adonis back into the ring once more.
"Everybody loves an underdog story"; a line used by Adonis to give Anderson his chance within the movie - and he’s certainly right. This unique perspective on the concept proves to be the perfect antithesis of Rocky, by making the antagonist the underdog. Majors makes it two-for-two in movies I’ve reviewed this year where he plays that standout character and his journey across Creed III is equally as compelling as Adonis’. Throughout the movie, his climb to the inevitable title shot is both humbling and terrifying to the point where you question whether he does genuinely deserve the title he so craves; an expert marriage of a perfect portrayal and excellent writing.
The direction itself is also top notch, as you can see from the opening bout, B Jordan really wanted to highlight the speed and control of professional boxers, making every move super smooth as if you were either fighter in the moment. However, choices were made in the final fight to amplify the drama of the situation which I wasn’t fully on board with. By making the conflict more artistic to display the internal battle in the mind of the hero, it almost derailed the realism it held so far up to this point in an effort to be symbolic.
But you can’t deny that drama is already there and the subtle hints of 'Gonna Fly Now’ will have you right there with them and back in the gym before you know it. I myself am lifting weights as I write this, preparing for an imaginary title match with Major’s Anderson who stands tall amongst the roster of great characters in the Rocky franchise.
Creed IV almost seems inevitable given the introduction of Adonis’ daughter Amara and her love for boxing. Her story could be another unique way to propel the franchise forward, but for now given the choice I would put Jordan and Majors back together in a heartbeat after a truly compelling third round.
Creed III available in UK cinemas now