Mar 4, 2023
Michael B. Jordan
Keenan Coogler, Zach Baylin, Ryan Coogler
Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Tessa Thompson
Mischievous observers might warn us about films with roman numerals in the title. Devoid of inspiration and nothing more than a cash-in; the predictable rehash of a story that used all its best ideas in the first film. You probably know where this is going. Of course, it's a money making exercise to keep the bean counters happy. But film makers can justifiably say they're giving people what they want. All of the above would be true of Creed III. But the bottom line hits home as sharply as a Creed right hook; this is great entertainment because of the template set by Rocky.
Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is now retired and living a comfortable life as the face of Ralph Lauren. But old habits die hard as he guides protégé Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez) to the World Heavyweight title. However, Creed's world is rocked when childhood friend and former boxer Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) turns up. They both share a secret that still haunts Creed. He takes Anderson under his wing who starts to box again. Emboldened by his new profile Anderson baits Creed, who realises he must once again face his demons in the ring.
The film tries hard to shed the association with Rocky who is strangely airbrushed from the narrative. Perhaps it was deliberate to give the franchise some independence. But it never really strays from an honest pugilist doing the right thing. The fanfare in the final sequence also bears a striking resemblance to Bill Conte's memorable Rocky score. The exhortations of a warrior in combat are all comfortably familiar.
Michael B. Jordan applies himself admirably to the role of star and director. The plot is brisk and engrossing but it's the action sequences that really stand out. Although exciting to watch they stretch credulity to the limit. Boxers can only dream of having such fast hands and the power to land the heaviest of punches. Where heavyweights regularly tip the scales at 16 stone, Creed and Anderson look nowhere near big enough to compete at that weight. However, picking holes is too easy and detracts from what is a very good film. The Creed franchise has the advantage of strong characters and visuals free of blinding special effects. So it feels a welcome antidote to the current dominance of the Marvel and DC equivalents.