Michael B Jordan takes his first solo flight, both as a director and as spiritual steward of the Rocky franchise. Does Creed 3 live up to the legacy?
I approached Creed 3 with a certain level of anxiety, apprehension, and guilt. As a lifelong fan of the Rocky franchise and the characters Sylvester Stallone created, it dampened the anticipation slightly to learn he was being excluded from this film. An ongoing dispute between Stallone and the films execs means Rocky will have no place in this episode of the franchise, despite already featuring in the first two ‘Creed’ movies. Also hearing Sylvester say he would never watch Creed 3 added to the sense that I would somehow be betraying Sly by watching it.
Despite these concerns, I still put on a brave face and attended a Warner Bros screening of the film in London’s Leicester Square. Even without the ‘Rocky’ involvement, there was still a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air. After 20yrs in front of the camera, Michael B Jordan was going to take on double duties, with his first shot at starring and directing.
The other reason for the excitement was the involvement of Jonathan Majors, appearing in his second big release in a matter of weeks, having starred as the villain Kang in Antman and the Wasp Quantumania (review). Jonathan Majors is without a doubt one of Hollywood’s hottest properties right now. Every project he is in doesn’t necessarily become a success, but his performances always win fantastic reviews, and I’m happy to say that this one here is no different.
What are March 2023 other Most Wanted Movies? Find out here
Creed 3 does its best to carve out its own identity while still mirroring some of the key ‘Rocky’ story tentpoles. The story begins with Adonis Creed masking in the glory of a successful career. Having retired from boxing as a champion, he now lives a cherished life with his beautiful and talented wife Bianca and their delightful daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). Mila is deaf in real life like her character Amara. Hearing the cast learnt sign language so they could also effectively communicate with Mila is great representation as her character Amara is a real adorable ‘Live wire’ and one of the excellent standout characters in the film.
The other standout is of course Damian Anderson, played by the currently infallible Jonathan Majors. Damian is a childhood friend of Adonis who was incarcerated following an incident in childhood defending his ‘little brother’ Adonis. Adonis managed to run away; Damian ended up being locked up for 18yrs. Before being locked away, Damian was a promising young boxing talent and golden gloves winner so upon release, he has his mind firmly set on making up for those missing years and fulfilling what he believes is his destiny. It also doesn’t help that while locked up, Adonis appears to have lived the life he lost.
Creed 3 has a simple but tightly woven and believable story about childhood friends who end up on very different paths through bad decisions made while young. The relationship between Adonis and Damian is great and is the thread that holds the film together beautifully. The supporting cast are all well utilized and give solid rounded performances and the film has an energy and sense of anticipation that never lets up, even during the quieter moments.
Adonis and Biancas relationship may not be ‘Rocky and Adrian’ but has a believability and a sense of weight about it not often seen in the franchise. Bianca is not simply a ‘prop’ to Adonis but an individual herself with her own career, fears, ambitions and goals.
Michael B Jordan gives a quality performance, the kind we have come to expect from him over the years and he more than holds his own against the magnetic force that is Jonathan Majors. But as a director making his debut, he knocks it out of the park. There are some shots which maybe don’t work as well but artistically, he approached this project with a few unique ideas and visually at least he delivers in spades. Credit must also go to the sound team as the crystal clarity of every connecting blow made the experience even more immersive
See 10 Fascinating facts about Michael B Jordan here
But regardless of the politics behind the scenes, this is still a ‘Rocky’ Movie, so you want to know what the fights were like and what about the training montage? For boxing fans, there are more than enough fights to get your teeth into. The fights themself are short works of art, shot beautifully with a combination of slow motion for emphasis and fast cuts which throw us right into the middle of the action.
We feel the impact of every punch with bone crunching clarity, while the blood and sweat almost flies off the screen at times. Even the sparring sessions are entertaining, making this a great watch for fight fans. Despite good efforts to be creative, the training montages aren’t quite as exciting as ones we’ve come to expect from the franchise, but they can’t get everything right!
Creed 3 is a fantastic achievement. The simple story of brother vs brother works effectively here and combining the solid action with the great performances from all the cast means this is a must see knock out of a movie. Was Rocky required for this story, the honest answer is no but as this is still essentially the ‘Rocky-Verse’ it would have been classy and an appreciation to long term fans to have an appearance from him, rather than work so hard to pretend he doesn’t exist. Avoiding any mention of Rocky left a slight bitter taste in my mouth and was the only significant issue I had with this otherwise high quality exciting and entertaining boxing flick.
CREED 3 Opens in Cinemas on Friday 3rd March 2023 watch the final trailer here