Creed III Drama

Review: ‘Creed III’ is a Hard-Hitting Sequel that’s a Punch Above the Average Sports Drama

March 2, 2023Ben MK

Everyone loves a good underdog story. And with two Creed films already under his Hollywood equivalent of a heavyweight championship belt, star Michael B. Jordan is certainly well aware of just how much moviegoers love watching his titular character — the son of Rocky's Apollo Creed — conquer adversity. Now, with the third entry in the Creed series ready to knock out audiences, Jordan is once again stepping into the ring, as well as stepping behind the camera for the first time. But can Creed III dodge the left hook of franchise fatigue and deliver yet another one-two box office punch?

Set several years after the last installment, Creed III finds former heavyweight champ Adonis Creed (Jordan) having laid down his boxing gloves in order to focus on spending time with his wife, singer-turned-producer Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and their young, hearing-impaired daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), while also helping to mentor up-and-coming fighters at Los Angeles' legendary Delphi Boxing Academy. But while Adonis may have set his sights on retiring from the sport, it would seem that fate has other things in mind for him, when a long-forgotten figure from his past makes a surprise reappearance. It's been nearly two decades since Adonis last saw his old friend and former parter-in-crime, Damian "Dame" Anderson (Jonathan Majors). So when a fresh-out-of-prison Dame shows up unannounced one day, it reopens painful emotional wounds for Adonis, who has spent the better part of the last 20 years trying to forge a new life for him and his family and move past the trauma of his childhood.

Dame, on the other hand, has spent the last 18 years reflecting on what his life could have been, and watching from behind bars as Adonis' boxing career flourished. Once a Golden Glove champion and a promising young boxer himself, Dame saw his future slip away from him after a momentary lapse in judgement resulted in his incarceration. Now that he's back on the outside, however, he has only one thing on his mind — claiming the coveted heavyweight championship title belt for himself. It's a lofty goal that would normally take a boxer years to accomplish. Yet, when an attack on current champ Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez) throws the status of his match with Creed II antagonist Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) into question, it suddenly seems as if that dream might well become a reality. Will Dame succeed in seizing the crown? And how far will he go to do so?

With a screenplay by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin, what follows will see Jordan exploring new aspects of the series' titular character, as Adonis must not only battle Dame, but also the personal demons that threaten to tear his family apart. Like he did with his recent role in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, though, it's Majors who tends to dominate the screen, not just because of his formidable physical presence, but thanks to the impressive depth he brings to the part. Suffice to say, whereas the opponents in the previous Creed movies were little more than one-dimensional, Majors brings much needed pathos to the role of Dame. And in a genre prone to becoming stale and formulaic, it helps elevate the result above and beyond your average sports drama.

Factor in the film's stellar and oftentimes mesmerizing fight sequences, and it's safe to say that Creed fans won't be disappointed by this threequel. And while the absence of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa is worth noting, it also serves to highlight just how far the franchise has come. After all, as any athlete knows, respect is something that has to be earned. And with Creed III, the Rocky spin-off series not only earns that respect from moviegoers; it also provides more than ample justification for the franchise to go a few more rounds.

Creed III releases March 3rd, 2023 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for intense sports action, violence and some strong language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 56 min.

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