Creed III (2023)

A lot of the basis for the central idea of the “Creed” movie series has been the mentor student relationship between Rocky and Adonis Creed. So it was bold of Michael B Jordan to not only go on without Ryan Coogler, but without Sylvester Stallone, too. Thankfully he proves that fortune favors the bold, as “Creed III” is a masterpiece. It not only progresses the Adonis Creed character, but it reveals him to be a flawed protagonist who has done things in his life that cause self reflection, but the audience to also step back and examine him.

Adonis Creed has found immense success in boxing and after one last fight, he’s retired. Now pretty much just a fighting promoter, his past comes back in to his new domestic life when his childhood friend Dame comes back in to town. Freshly out of prison, he’s desperate to become a world championship boxer. But when his less than savory boxing causes a stir in Adonis’ life, he learns some secrets about his old friend that causes a rift between them. Now Adonis has to step in the ring one more time to settle an old score with Dame.

“Creed III” is a chance for Michael B. Jordan to shine on every level, and yet his direction is filled with humility from top to bottom. While “Creed III” is very much about Adonis Creed, Jordan takes the opportunity to focus a lot on the people that have molded his character, this includes his wife, daughter, mother and for better or worse, his best friend Dame. Dame interrupts his quiet life and comes in like a tornado stirring up old memories that Adonis has been deadest on forgetting. Dame is not a man who is okay with letting sleeping dogs lie, and he inevitably causes Adonis to re-think a lot about his past, and confront surefire impostor syndrome.

Jonathan Majors is a powerhouse, playing a character from Adonis’ past whose entire motivation is played with even tones of gray. You can argue that he’s justified in his feelings, despite his unsavory personality, and the way the writers portray their dynamic, he’s not a villain, but by no means a noble individual. Michael B. Jordan really conveys a lot of confidence with not just his performance but with his ace direction. He openly explained that he drew a lot of influence from anime to help stage some of his own unique boxing sequences and it shows.

There are so many great boxing scenes that stand out on their own from the preceding films. In particular there’s the final boxing match in where Jordan steps in to the minds of Adonis and Dame, depicting not just a public bout, but a psychological bout between two truly angry men. Filling the Rocky Balboa role is Wood Harris who is very good as trainer and mentor Duke, a man who is keen to Dame’s persona from the moment he meets him, and tries his best to keep Adonis from going off the rails emotionally. “Creed III” had every chance to go wrong, but it’s more than proven it is more than capable of continuing on with or without Rocky Balboa. It’s one of the best films of the year.