Rocky may have started this franchise, but Creed owns it now, and that’s not such a bad thing.
Set years after Creed II’s conclusion, Creed III follows Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) as he retires from the sport that made him famous to focus on his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and their young daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). But after one of Adonis’ childhood friends is released from a long stint in prison — the one-time Golden Gloves champion named Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) — Adonis is pressured to atone for a past mistake he still feels guilty for. Finding a way to give Damian a professional match of his own, events are set in motion that force Adonis out of retirement to deal with Damian, a monster of his own making while leaving a legacy behind for those that come next.
The directorial debut of franchise star Michael B. Jordan, Creed III is a no less interesting chapter in the Rocky saga that keeps this rejuvenated series heading in the right direction, despite some growing pains along the way. With a solid hook, mature set of themes, and relatable character progression, Jordan’s love for all things anime is immediately apparent to any weebs out there that have seen even a second of his stylish boxing fights, all of which do not disappoint. Mix in some great stuff from Jonathan Majors and some more welcome representation of ASL-fluent characters that further shine a light on those with hearing impairment issues, and at a base level, Creed III has a lot going for it that I hope to see more of as this “Creedverse” expands.
Unfortunately, and just like Creed II before it, the great elements of this film make Creed III’s numerous flaws all the more frustratingly apparent as I had a hard time reconciling more than a few filmmaking decisions that sometimes made no sense to me and felt off from a storytelling perspective. Other than needing a bit more suspension of disbelief once Damian enters the professional boxing picture and starts to become Adonis’ antagonist, some relatively important story choices felt either too contrived, too rushed, and simply not handled with enough care or nuance to feel as effective as they should have been, possibly because of Michael B. Jordan’s inexperience as a director but more so likely because Creed III’s narrative was juggling too many elements to successfully follow through with any of them in a satisfying way.
So while it was pretty clear after walking out of the theater that this franchise will most likely never reach the incredibly high heights the original Creed hit, there’s enough to like in Creed III to ensure this series will continue to be a bunch of entertaining — if not entirely average — set of boxing films. I’m interested to see where Adonis goes from here, so let’s hope the next entry sees Michael B. Jordan hone his craft even further to give us something truly unique rather than just an okay piece of popcorn entertainment.