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Few film series mange to keep swinging fit as a fiddle at this age. The Creed series, a spin-off of the Rocky franchise, has slowly etched out its own legacy worthy of what came before, and this ninth entry in the franchise overall is another barnstormingly entertaining offering bell to bell.
The film sees champ Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) retire at the top of his game in 2020. Three years on, being a loving husband to Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and father to their daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), he invests his time into family and helping to mould the next generation of boxers at Tony “Little Duke” Evers Jr’s (Wood Harris) boxing academy. But Adonis’ past comes calling in his childhood friend Damian (Jonathan Majors), who thinks he deserves a shot and is coming to take it all.
Creed III is a fantastic directorial debut for Michael B. Jordan, who has as much passion and charisma behind the camera as he does in front of it. This Creed films were always a passing the torch moment, and this sequel sees it culminate, with an outing that certainly follows the well-tested franchise formula to the letter, but does so with confident punch.
Jordan is unselfish and stylish in his direction, giving ample time to others onscreen, and to the art of movie-making, and while you can predict where the story is going and does, it does allow for some distinctive visual flourishes along the way. With some well thought out cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau and some boxing sequences that punctuate the drama really well, with a final showdown in particular that is delivered interestingly and with some new aesthetic flavour.
Jordan is of course brilliant as a more mature Creed, who is enjoying what hard fought success has brought but still transitioning to family life, and is having to confront memories and feelings long since buried. While Thompson is also great as his supportive but honest wife, and their whole family dynamic with their deaf daughter is so sweet and meaningful.
The legacy elements are nicely handled and not over bearing (Rocky’s story still has impact but not overpoweringly so), which adds to the tale being told but also allows Creed III to tell its own personal tale of shattered brotherhoods and family. And to that point, we approach the film’s not-so-secret weapon, as Creed III has the best challenger to the hero’s crown in years, in the show-stealing Jonathan Majors. Who, as Damian, is a “villain” that has such depth and layers, and is ferociously this series’ greatest in-ring threat since the ‘80s.
Creed III is gripping, exhilarating, hard-hitting entertainment that shows that the hits may be very familiar indeed but, almost five decades on, that underdog story, blast of triumphant music at the right moments, and dramatic punch, all still work their big screen magic, and are no less rousing all these years on!
A new heavyweight champion was crowned years ago, but now he joins Rocky in the Hall of Fame. Creed III is a crowd pleasing blast. At this rate, the franchise could easily go 12 rounds (after all it’s on its ninth already!)