REVIEW: Even though it takes some hits, ‘Creed III’ ends up above average

In the lede for my “Creed II” review, I asked for the main character Adonis to fight John Cena in “Creed III,” ala Rocky Vs. Thunderlips in “Rocky III.”

It didn’t happen, but the film is still alright.

Michael B. Jordan not only reprises his role as Adonis Creed for the third time in the series, but also directs. Having defended his title several times and getting higher in age, Adonis retires early in “Creed III,” after what he said was his last fight.

Following his retirement, Creed operates a boxing academy where one day he comes across a former friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Just released from prison, Anderson was a promising fighter before his sentence and is looking to get back in the sport. Anderson doesn’t just want to box, though, he wants the title and the life Adonis was able to live while he was in a cell.

Revisiting Adonis’ story at the sunset of his career is a welcome addition to the character’s journey, and a good way to continue the overall “Rocky” universe. These movies, across the entire series, have always been about spending time with characters we as an audience love, and “Creed III” is no different.

The real hook of the film is seeing Adonis deal with the next phase of his life, as he retires and begins spending more time with his family, and help young fighters develop into contenders. It’s charming to see his growth as a character from the first picture.

The movie also earns points for exploring what retirement means to Adonis. Giving up a sport that athletes love and dedicate decades of their lives to can be hard to walk away from. “Creed III” acknowledges that nicely, as well as the effort it can take to make a comeback after being out of the sport for a bit.

The main conflict of the story is where the third “Creed” loses some of its momentum. While Majors shows off some great acting with the character Damian, the basis of the animosity between the two fighters is rather generic and the way they get to be at odds with each other seems rushed.

Courtesy MGM.

On the first point, it is true that the “Rocky-Creed” saga often has similar stories taking place. However, the plot of a friend going to jail and another avoiding the law, with the two later reuniting and being at odds because of what’s happened in life seems especially overused.

It doesn’t even have to be jail with the trope, either. “Creed III” at times also felt really reminiscent of the 2011 sports drama “Warrior.”

Addressing the second point, Damian’s progression to being an opponent of Adonis, in the setting of the movie, happens too quickly. It’s nearly overnight, and barely allowing any time to pass doesn’t really allow everything going on to sink in.

All of this isn’t to say these story elements make “Creed III” a bad film, but they do detract a bit, keeping it below the upper echelon of the series. What doesn’t detract from the third “Creed” is the final fight, which is exciting, emotional and quite unique. It is a satisfying climax to the film, and if this is the last “Creed,” a good send off, too.

Also, Jordan once again does really superb work in the lead role of Adonis. As stated earlier, it’s a new chapter of his life, which Jordan brings out in the character, while still portraying the heart Adonis has, as well as the chip that stays on his shoulder. The cast is nicely rounded out, too, by Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad.

“Creed III” is a fine addition to this franchise’s filmography. There’s solid acting across the board, and there’s some good drama and compelling moments with memorable characters. The more generic elements and some of the conflict feeling rushed just puts it a bit lower on the list. 3.5 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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