The film industry is a place with no shortage of spin-offs, prequels, sequels, overall multi-billion dollar franchises with no end in sight. I mean, have we seen enough Star Wars? Yes. Do we want more? Also yes. In the same vein, the Rocky Cinematic Universe has continued to attract audiences for more than four decades. Creed III, the ninth installment of the series, gives us the first film unaccompanied by the character who started it all. Surprisingly, the story survives without pulling any punches.
Outstanding directorial debut
Michael B. Jordan reprises his role as the titular character but is more impressive in the director’s chair for the first time. Jordan admitted to being inspired by anime in his direction of the film’s fight sequences, and while the idea might sound questionable to some fans, it was a creative decision that truly hit the mark. Possibly controversial, but I have no problem saying he provided us with the best fight scenes in the entire franchise.
Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Wood Harris also return as Bianca, Mary Anne, and Duke respectively. But the man of the hour is indisputably, and unsurprisingly, Jonathan Majors. Coming off a performance that might be the only praise Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania received, his extraordinary talent is put to great use here.
Entering the franchise as Adonis Creed’s childhood friend Dame Anderson, Majors takes on a role that answers the question, “What if Rocky was the villain?” His character’s story is somewhat similar to the original underdog’s in that he’s from a rough neighborhood, involved in illegal activity, in need of an opportunity to prove himself – that sort of thing. He even makes you want to root for him.
Adonis is a hero in retirement, marriage, and fatherhood, so Dame’s ability to shake his world is remarkably thrilling. The dynamic of brotherly love mixed with unfriendly competition is ultimately what makes the film so great.
“Let go of whatever was and walk into what is.”
Co-writers of the film, Keenan Coogler (Space Jam: A New Legacy) and Zach Baylin (King Richard), did a fantastic job layering vulnerability and trauma management in a hyper-masculine setting which tends to be atypical in this type of movie. Every punch is packed with intense emotion, and even the subplots are heartfelt and inspirational.
Optically imaginative, irreproachably dramatic, and conscientiously moving, Creed III successfully paves its own path to the boxing film hall of fame.
Creed III is now in theaters. Watch the trailer here.
Featured Image Courtesy of Eli Ade © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.
CREED III - 8.5/10