Movie review: No more Rocky but his spirit lives on in 'Creed 3'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Mar 03 2023 12:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2023 01:50 PM

Michael B. Jordan in 'Creed 3.' Handout
Michael B. Jordan in 'Creed 3.' Handout

Adonis "Donnie" Creed (Michael B. Jordan) had already retired from professional boxing as a champion. Aside from taking care of his musical producer wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and deaf daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), his time was mostly spent running his boxing gym with coach Tony "Little Duke" Evers (Wood Harris). Their latest protege was current champion Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez), who was of Mexican descent.

One day, Donnie unexpectedly met an old friend Damian "Dame" Anderson (Jonathan Majors) outside his gym. Donnie and Dame go way back when they were teens, but were since estranged when Dame went to prison, where he was incarcerated for 20 years. Dame wanted to ask Donnie's help to get him back on his track to be a champion boxer. He was pressuring Donnie to get him a title fight, even if he had not fought professionally before.

This is already the third film of the "Creed." Original director Ryan Coogler is still involved as a producer, but like the second installment, this one was directed by star Jordan himself. This is the first time that Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa would not appear on camera, nor merit a mention in the script. However, the tried-and-true boxing melodrama formula Stallone originated in the first Rocky film was still very much followed. 

Like before, there would be one significant defeat in the middle of the film which would push the hero to train harder (the requisite training montage is still there, of course) for the second (and final) showdown. However, here the story was a little more complex as it involved an incident in the past when Dame and Donnie were only ages 18 and 15 respectively -- an event that changed the course the lives of both boys.

The family interactions between Donnie, Bianca, Amara and his mother Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) were all very natural and sincere. Jonathan Majors is really exploding onto the scene, after his major role in "Ant-Man and the Wasp" as Kang, a powerful antagonist who will dominate the entire Phase 5 of the MCU. Likely, he will also have a recurrent role in this "Creed" franchise as well, as Florian Munteneau again played Viktor Drago in this one.

The boxing scenes are of course the main highlights of a film like this. The first one was Donnie's final championship match with closeups of vicious hits to the flanks. In the second match, Dame used rough brawl techniques he picked up in prison to secure his own victory. The finale was of course Creed v Dame, but instead the usual round per round, Jordan chose to use a surreal style to summarize rounds 3 to 11, losing some drama points. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."