• Terrific acting
  • Great direction
  • Energetic, exciting pace
  • Predictable plot
  • Familiar, worn themes

Michael B. Jordan’s exciting, tense direction paired with Jonathan Majors’ terrific supporting performance are compelling evidence for “Creed III” to be considered the best in the series thus far.


After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian – a fighter who has nothing to lose.

The biggest draw for “Rocky III,” besides the return of everyone’s favorite underdog and the return of the great Carl Weathers as Adonis Creed, was the insertion of antagonist Clubber Yang (a delightfully vicious performance from Mr. T). Clubber was an unstoppable foe that could prove himself to be Rocky’s greatest and most grueling challenge yet in the series. It seems the writing team behind “Creed III”, Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin (with Ryan receiving story credit), took notes on how to raise the stakes in the third chapter of the Creed saga. “Creed” begins with a nicely set flashback of a young Adonis sneaking out to hang with his friend, Damien “Dame” Anderson. Dame is a young boxer on his way to the top and Creed looks up to him as a big brother. Before long, an unfortunate incident occurs that involves both Adonis and Dame. Cut to present day, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is a highly successful and retired boxer. He is now a boxing promoter, enjoying his time with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who has a terrific songwriting career, and his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). That is until adult Dame (Jonathan Majors) gets released from prison, reunites with his childhood buddy and things get increasingly more complicated from there.

“Creed III” takes the old adage “you can’t run from your past” and approaches it in familiar, slightly generic ways. But it’s the ferocious performances and frenetic pace that keeps “Creed” so engaging throughout its duration, in contrast to its plot. Michael B. Jordan is terrific-as-ever in the lead role of Creed (he’s also great behind the camera – more on that later), balancing his emotions well as our lead hero deals with hidden aspects of his past he did not think would come back to haunt him. Or things he thought he could just fight away. There’s also a little bit of “sins of the father” work happening here with Creed and his relationship with his daughter (great character work done by young newcomer Mila Davis-Kent). Her infatuation with his career and how it affects her personal life sets up great complex moments of confrontations between Bianca and Creed, giving Tessa Thompson a few solid moments to show her range. Phylicia Rashad also brings in terrific character work as Mary Anne Creed. Coming off a previous health scare, Mary tries her best to stay strong and supportive while also carrying justified reservations about Dame’s return and how his presence could affect Creed’s new life. Rashad shines in this role and it shows how some of the best character actors can do so much with so little.

The biggest star of all in this new chapter is of course, Mr. Rising Star himself, Jonathan Majors. Speaking back to how Mr. T’s Clubber Yang was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with in Rocky III, Majors carries the same energy with Dame. Every scene he’s in (especially in the great scenes he shares with Jordan), he has the terrific presence of a character that is on a strict unstoppable mission – to win a title match. Unfortunately, at the time of his release from prison, Creed already has a title match set up between Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu, from Creed II) and Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez, from Creed I). Due to unforeseen circumstances, Dame soon finds himself in the ring for a title match and not too long after that, Dame comes for Creed himself, culminating one of the best final fight sequences in recent memory. In the first half of “Creed”, Dame is a shifty, weary ex-convict that is on a fearless, vicious mission to prove himself worthy and win the title; in the second half, he’s a wickedly fun antagonist that is gunning for our protagonist’s head and carries the same brazen energy as Clubber. It’s through Majors’ performance and his infectious chemistry with Jordan that makes this a breezy, energetic 116-minute ride.

All fun things aside, the only missing element from “Creed” is the legend himself – Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. The deletion of Rocky could cause many Rocky and Creed fans to approach the film with trepidation or apprehension but just as Rocky was able to carry on past his trainer Mickey Goldmill, Creed is able to carry on past his “uncle Rocky” (another great parallel to Rocky III). The Creed series has come to a point where Jordan can spearhead (and direct) the series with competence and skill just as Stallone had done with four of the Rocky films before him. And let’s talk about that directing. Michael B. Jordan effectively takes the director baton from Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. (director of Creed II) and makes an impressive directorial debut. Every punch in the ring is felt, every emotion is aptly presented, the transitions are smooth and the final fight scene is the kind of cinematic battle of two titans that was borne for the singular purpose of being experienced in an IMAX theater. Ludwig Göransson’s work as a composer of the Creed series is also as tantalizing and energetic as ever, perfectly complementing Jordan’s tense direction. Jordan doesn’t lessen the intensity and passion of the previous Creed films, he enhances them and in turn makes the best film thus far in the Creed series.

Closing Thoughts
“Creed III” is an exciting, engaging chapter in the Creed series. What works for “Creed” isn’t its rather predictable plot but its engaging characters and fresh pace. Jonathan Majors efficiently steals the show as Dame Anderson, presenting himself as an infectiously entertaining, unstoppable foe. His chemistry with Michael B. Jordan and Jordan’s tight, tense direction makes this an undeniably exciting watch. Great performances, a terrific score and exciting direction are all the key elements that make “Creed III” the best in the series thus far.


Blak Cinephile
Blak Cinephile is a cinephile who both loves film and loves to write/talk about it. He has a genuine respect for the art of cinema and has always strived to find the line between insightful subjectivity and observant objectivity while constructing his reviews. He believes a deeper understanding (and a deeper love) of cinema is borne through criticism.

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