Jordan Stars and Makes Directorial Debut in ‘Creed III’ Awesomely
Creed III, the newest addition to the Rocky spinoff series and the ninth film in the boxing franchise, marks Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut. In this film, Jordan not only reprises his role as champion fighter Adonis Creed, but he also directs himself, thereby showcasing his skill as an actor and a director.
Despite the pressure of living up to the legacy of the previous Rocky films and Creed, which Ryan Coogler directed, Jordan manages to honor the series’ legacy while moving its storyline forward.
The film starts with a flashback to 2002 in Los Angeles, with Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) sneaking out as a teenager to watch his big brother figure, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), dominate in underground fights. A violent confrontation on the way home takes a swipe at both their fates, with Adonis going onto greatness and Damian bagging an 18-year prison term.
The story then jumps ahead 15 years to show that Adonis now has the boxing career that Damian always dreamed of with a scene which could be assumed to be Adonis’s retirement fight in the boxing ring.
After his victory, the film takes another jump to the present-day showing Adonis, now a retired boxer living a luxurious life with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and their deaf daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) in a modern mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
The retired Adonis now shapes the next generation of fighters as a behind-the-scenes force at his own Delphi Boxing Academy. His wife who is a singer-songwriter but had issues with her hearing, which put a stop to her career as a singer, now works with new talent as a producer.
However, the arrival of Damian interrupts their peaceful life. Damian, who has toughened himself in prison, now seeks the boxing glory he believes was meant for him.
The film’s climactic showdown between Adonis and Damian takes place at Dodger Stadium, a truly inspiring location that’s so extremely L.A. The fight scene is expertly choreographed and shot, with the sound design capturing the impact of every punch and the editing keeping the action moving at a fast pace. The fight scenes are forceful, and when it comes time for the climactic showdown between these two formidable opponents, Jordan delivers an intense and thrilling fight scene that will have audiences on the edge of their seats. The fight’s choreography is impeccable, with every punch and counter punch authentic and impactful. However, it’s not just the action that makes this scene so effective; it’s the emotional weight that Jordan has built up throughout the film, making the outcome of the fight genuinely important.
The film also features a talented cast, with strong performances from Jordan’s co-stars, including Jonathan Majors as Adonis’ childhood friend-turned-adversary: Damian. Majors is tremendous in his role, bringing a deeply unsettling energy to the character, which makes him ferocious and volatile. Tessa Thompson brings an earthiness and sensitivity to the movie, adding a much-needed female presence to the heavily masculine film. Young Davis-Kent shines brightly in her first key role as a deaf actor, and thereby holding her own opposite veteran performers with her sparky presence and timing. Phylicia Rashad also returns with a crucial, graceful performance as Adonis’ mother, Mary-Anne.
The film showcases its ability to perform magic with a seemingly simple scene. Specifically, the awkward reunion dinner Adonis shares with Damian is depicted in a way that tells a full and rich story. Using close-ups, pacing, and facial expressions, both actors convey a wealth of meaning and explanations. The exceptional exchange between the characters demonstrates their ability to communicate beyond words, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.
Creed III also gives the people what they want, and that is multiple training scenes. Once it becomes clear that Adonis must get back into shape to fight Damian for the championship at Dodger Stadium, of all places, the scenes that follow are top notch. There are scenes that show both characters running through the streets, on the beach, up a hill, and punching and sparring. And there’s additionally a dramatic scene of Adonis pulling an actual airplane.
The movie is not without its flaws. For instance, it takes a little while to get going since the flashback that aims at establishing the shared history between Adonis and Damian could be described as excessive. However, once the story picks up, it does not let up, keeping the audience engaged and invested in the outcome of the fight.
Additionally, some scenes are left without a proper conclusion or resolution. For example, the scene where Adonis and Bianca are arguing about Amara’s actions at school (specifically, punching a bully) is left abruptly without any clear closure or revisitation of the topic.
Nonetheless, with its expertly crafted storytelling and impressive visuals, Creed III pays homage to the franchise’s heritage while also propelling the story forward. The film’s intricate set design, sound design, and cinematography work together seamlessly to transport viewers into the gritty world of boxing, and the talented cast delivers standout performances, particularly Jonathan Majors as the menacing foe, Damian. While the film hits all the expected high notes of an action-packed film, it also introduces fresh and clever plot twists that make it a must-see for fans of the genre.
Release date: Theatrical release March 3, 2023; released on streaming platforms April 7
Run time: 1 hour, 56 minutes 50 seconds.
Streaming service: Prime Video
Director: Michael B. Jordan
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Mila Davis-Kent, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Thaddeus J Mixson, Spence Moore II, and Florian Munteanu.