Review: CREED III Pulls The Punches For More Drama

CREED III

After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian – a fighter who has nothing to lose. Creed III is the third installment in the successful franchise and is Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut.

CREED III Trailer:

THE GOOD

The strongest element that worked for CREED III was the acting. Michael B. Jordan gave a wonderful, well-balanced performance as Adonis Creed. I appreciated how he was able to let himself freely explore the emotional depths of his character in a believable way. Jordan’s acting was certainly aided by the talented supporting cast. Tessa Thompson was a delight, and her chemistry with Jordan felt authentic. Phylicia Rashad acted so well in a particular scene that it was inevitable to feel my eyes get a little watery. One of my favorite performances was probably from Wood Harris, who played “Duke”. Whenever he spoke, he felt like the most relatable character for audiences.

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(l-r.) Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed, Mila Kent as Amara and Tessa Thompson as Bianca in
CREED III
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film
Photo credit: Eli Ade
© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved
CREED is a trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With all that said, it’s no secret that Jonathan Majors practically steals the show. He was simply magnetic in every scene. Majors would do the smallest things that didn’t require dialogue but simultaneously conveyed the conflicting emotions within his character. He would do things like look, smile, or walk a certain way that would keep one guessing about what was really going on in his mind. Of course, regarding the role’s physicality, Majors brought a commanding and intimidating presence that pushed Jordan’s character. Majors played the perfect antagonist that, at times, you almost wanted to root for and not against.

Lastly, the fights were handled well and entertaining to watch. Michael B. Jordan succeeded in adapting some of the visual styles found in Japanese animation regarding how some of the fights were shot. As an anime fan, I appreciated the tight shots going from the fight to his opponent, and transitioning into a slow-motion impact, from a devastating punch. It was a refreshing change of pace to see during the fights, and the cinematography made the moment even more genuine. The best part of the fights that I enjoyed most was probably the element of strategy in boxing. It was a brilliant decision on Jordan’s part as director to allow audiences to see what the boxer sees and to get a glimpse into what the boxer was thinking during a fight. In other words, rather than just showcasing two guys punching each other, Jordan gave us a front-row seat into the chess match that happens behind every punch.

THE BAD

One thing that hindered CREED III was the editing of the film. There were some noticeable moments where some of the story felt choppy. This also gave the impression of the pacing feeling a bit off. The tension and suspense between Jordan and Majors’ characters were building up steadily, and then all of a sudden, things seemed to really take off by the second and third acts. It almost felt like a mad dash just to get to the final fight. As a matter of fact, even the final fight felt a bit shorter than it presented itself to be. When the bell rang, twelve rounds felt more like just three.

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Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed and Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson in
CREED III
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film
Photo credit: Eli Ade
© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.
CREED is a trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The editing issues may have affected the writing of the film as well. The plot was not only basic, but it was rather predictable. While some things are fine to predict, like a training montage or a good fight, many of the outcomes of the film are telegraphed early and clearly. I rarely felt the stakes in this film because some situations were just contrived for the sake of building up drama rather than having a more natural course of action.  There was also the issue of some scenes not feeling fleshed out. For instance, in the final act of the film, some characters achieve revelations, but how they come to those realizations doesn’t feel earned.

A minor concern for CREED III was the choice to shoot the final, big fight more unconventionally manner. While I appreciate the originality and creativity, I also understand that the final fight is a departure from what is visually expected from a film in this franchise. Some creative and artsy shots may be distracting for some viewers, even though it’s obvious that the film was trying to make some themes more literal in a visual sense.

The Verdict

CREED III is an entertaining watch thanks to an incredible performance from Jonathan Majors and bold stylistic choices by director Michael B. Jordan. Going back to its Rocky roots, this film is a drama first, and a boxing movie second. That may be a bit of a letdown for some fans of the franchise, given how the first two movies have some unforgettable boxing scenes. As long you know this film is primarily about these two friends and their traumatic past, you can enjoy the film for what it is rather than what the previous Creed movies established.

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Jonathan Majors stars as Damian Anderson and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed in
CREED III
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film
Photo credit: Eli Ade
© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved
CREED is a trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I’m just glad this movie had little to no mention of Rocky at all. While I do love Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky franchise, the purpose of this spinoff is to be about Adonis and his journey. CREED III finally did what the previous movies couldn’t do, and that was to get out of Rocky’s shadow. This was a good start for Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut, but he still has a way to go in perfecting this craft. He’ll have to start by not having his film feel so familiar with his previous work. Honestly, CREED III had Black Panther vibes all throughout. Dame was Killmonger, and Adonis was T’Challa. The theme of leaving someone behind, and neglecting them while the other prospered just feels like Creed III copied Black Panther’s homework. 

I wouldn’t put Creed III at the top of my list in this franchise.  Creed (2015) still reigns supreme because of the more substantial writing and more realistic boxing matches. Creed III falls to the bottom of the list, even though the movie was still enjoyable. This film also intrigued me with the potential spinoff they set up toward the end. Be sure to go watch CREED III in theaters when you can.

Director: Michael B. Jordan
Writer(s): Keenan Coogler
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad, Mila Davis-Kent, Jose Benavidez, Seleneis Leyva
CREED III hits theaters March 3, 2023. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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Review: CREED III Pulls The Punches For More Drama
  • Acting - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
    7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
    7/10
  • Watchability - 9/10
    9/10
  • Rewatchability - 7/10
    7/10
Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10
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About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Rotten Tomatoes Approved, Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He's contributed to other outlets such as ScreenRant andThe Wrap, and has been featured on television such as MSNBC. Be sure to join the other fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]