When Creed III opens, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is living a luxurious retired life in Los Angeles. The former heavyweight champ spends time with his wife (Tessa Thompson) and daughter (Mila Davis-Kent). He also runs a gym where he trains promising young boxers.
Life is good for Adonis but no one would want to watch a movie about a boxer who leads a well-adjusted and productive life outside the ring.
Enter Damien (Jonathan Majors), a buddy from the days when Adonis was a street kid. Damien also had a promising future as a boxer but got busted for a using a gun in a fight. Adonis was with him and blames himself for escaping without consequences. Damien did 18 years in the slammer.
Damien clearly has an agenda, and the guilt-ridden Adonis believes he can't escape a psychological debt acquired during his adolescence.
We see some of Adonis's youth in flashbacks in which he’s played by Thaddeus James Mixson Jr. He and young Damien (Spence Moore II) once were bros.
It’s payback time and Damien now wants Creed to arrange a title fight for him.
Jordan, who also directs, offers an efficient Creed sequel, banishing nuance in favor of plot points that land like punches. As Damien’s fortunes build, he remains a character Majors portrays with menacing force.
Currently on view in Ant-Man: Quntumania, Majors gives Damien an impacted brutality that's emphasized by his crouched fighting style. The movie's most vividly drawn character, Damien's a vengeful man driven to threats of violence against Adonis and his family.
The only way to stop him? See a counselor who specializes in mediating emotionally charged disputes?
Nah. Creed must come out retirement and try to recapture the title Damien has won, improbably for a guy who's a bit long in the tooth to be making a big-time professional debut.
A showdown looms.
Jordan stages the big fight with more oomph than realism. This, after all, isn’t Raging Bull; it’s an attempt to continue the life of a character, who, thus far, has carried two movies over a profitable finish line.
Absent from all of this is Sylvester Stallone, who has a producing credit. The oddball teaming of Stallone and Jordan in previous movies added something that Creed III lacks, an appropriately corny connection to the original Rocky movies.
Still, Jordan and Masters energize the movie -- with a bit of help, of course. Phylicia Rashad signs on as Adonis’s mother and Wood Harris plays the trainer who warns Adonis against taking on Damien in the first place.
Screenwriters Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin use Adonis’s daughter and his ailing mother to soften Creed's dramatic muscle flexing.
Adonis’s daughter is deaf and the movie features signing between mom and daughter and dad and daughter.
Mom, too, has experienced a hearing loss. She's had to adjust her musical career, a secondary storyline that gives her a parallel problem to Adonis's woes, accepting new personal expectations.
Enough. Creed III doesn't always make it easy to suspend disbelief nor does the movie work as a pure fable about underdog triumphs. To me, Jordan's Creed seldom seemed like anything but a winner.
Creed III occupies its own world. Maybe that's sufficient. I'd give Creed III a pass but I wouldn’t be sorry if Jordan were to hang up the gloves and devote his considerable talents to other endeavors.
At the same time, I wouldn’t bet against Creed IV.
Successful movie franchises are difficult to resist -- for the folks who make them and for audiences that never seem to tire of return trips.
Would this be worth a watch if you like sports movies? Thanks.
I guess I don’t really think of this as a sports movie. It’s more about the personal issues between two men. They’re boxers, of course, but I wouldn’t call it must “sports” viewing unless you have a special interest in boxing movies.
In that case, would you say it succeeds as a personal drama?
Only if you don't mind that the issues are drawn in the boldest of terms.
It's awful, couldn't wait for it to end. Tried to do too much and finished up being nothing but a vanity project for Jordan
Question: Did you think the same of the succession of “Rocky” movies? And isn’t vanity, to some degree, a part of all expression?
Typically, boldest has a positive connotation to it. In any case, you do seem more positive on it (albeit marginally). Would that be correct? Thanks.
As I said in the review, "I'd give Creed a pass." I think that qualifies as being a "marginally positive" response to a movie that I wasn't enthusiastic about for reasons stated in the review.
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