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Michael B. Jordan's Creed III lands a one-two punch: Movie Review

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Michael B. Jordan is back in the third instalment of his epic Creed boxing franchise, and he’s pulling out new punches in his best and most enjoyable film of the series in Creed III.

Champion boxer Adonis Creed’s (Jordan) legacy is revisited with great purpose as he’s set to retire before childhood frenemy Damian (Jonathan Majors) comes back to Los Angeles, setting up a fight that revisits an incident from their past.

Not only are the primary relationships forcefully compelling, but the grand theme of familial release through healthy vulnerability is set into every main relationship in Adonis’ life: as a husband, father, son, mentor, boss and athlete.

Showing the same theme imbedded through all areas in Adonis’ life make for a strong moral center that lifts up the amazingly-well shot boxing matches. What more could you ask for in great sports cinema?

Just as the literal plot of the Creed film series follows Adonis’ tracing the footsteps of character Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), it makes sense that the literal career of actor Michael B. Jordan would follow that of Stallone’s in making his directorial debut in his featured boxing franchise.

Yes, Stallone made his directorial debut on Rocky II way back in 1982, so Creed III makes sense as a vehicle for Jordan to branch out as an artist by both starring and directing himself.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Both are demanding jobs, and doing them simultaneously often leads to one or both being compromised with either unclear direction or a distracted and unconvincing lead performer - that exact issue could be argued happened to even Stallone in Rocky IV or V. Jordan, however, escapes that pitfall and executes both roles successfully.

Not only is his Adonis deeply conflicted and nuanced as he navigates his relationship web, but his control in positioning the camera and shaping scenes (especially the slow-motion fights!) show directorial insight and promise.

The whole cast, in fact, is outstanding. Thompson is in her most realized performance yet as the grounded Bianca, exuding truth and vulnerability from both Adonis and their daughter Amara (herself terrific, Mila Davis-Kent). Phylicia Rashad and Wood Harris are great in their returning roles as well.

Jonathan Majors’ Damian, however, proves to be the greatest deuteragonist and boxing foe yet. Majors is scary, sweet, honest, deceptive and ruthless all at once: and his prowess as an athlete makes him an opponent that really gets the viewer pumped up to see him fight.

He’s a great character from an actor currently on a Hollywood hot streak (he was the equally scene-stealing Kang in Ant-Man: Quantumania just two weeks ago.)

My favourite scenes show Adonis and his now older daughter Amara, showing a deeper interest and background knowledge into the sport of boxing. His initial coaching of her, done entirely through her fluent American Sign Language, are deeply cool to watch.

Creed III doesn’t break much new ground, but the execution is tonally and technically perfect, including some dynamite IMAX-filmed fight scenes. Even if it’s not the most unique of Rocky or Creed film, it’s one of the easiest to like and get excited for.

Run to see Creed III. The thrilling drama and earnest zeal make this boxing match a box office must-see - it’s the first truly great movie of 2023.

Creed III

9 out of 10

PG, 1hr 56mins. Sports Drama Epic.

Directed by Michael B. Jordan.

Starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Mila Davis-Kent and Phylicia Rashad.

Now playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.