It is always nice to see an actor make that transition to becoming a director and being behind the camera instead of in front of it. For many on-screen talents, that transition typically happens in the latter part of their careers. Micheal B. Jordan dares to make this transition at the helm of this latest addition to a franchise which many would describe as an offspring of a cult classic. And like the character he plays, he does it like a true champion of the art of audiovisual storytelling.
‘CREED III’ is set several years after Creed II. Adonis is hugely successful and has retired from fighting. He lives in a plush LA mansion with his wife and daughter whilst running a gym with his trainer and also promoting fights.
But his almost perfect life is threatened by a blast from his past and he might lose it all. He must now fight for everything that he believes in including his legacy.
Interestingly, you don’t miss Sylvester Stallone that much in this. As much as he would have been a great addition to the story, especially with Adonis trying to make a very important comeback after 3 years in retirement, you would think the best go-to with the plot point would be him reconnecting with his old trainer Rocky.
But perhaps that would have been a tad too predictable even for the average film lover.
Jonathan Majors presents a formidable foe in the form of Dame. Even before his first scene with his shirt off, we see that he is a big fella with some skill in the ring.
When he is first introduced to us in the scene leaning up against Adonis’ car, he immediately cuts the figure of a man on a mission. He is haunted not just by his past but also by the thoughts of what could have been.
Major’s performance is certainly all that the film needed and more. He brings all the intensity and the disruption needed to unsettle Adonis’ almost perfect life. He is a bit frightening as you would expect from any villain in a story such as this. And when he throws a punch he certainly does with all ill intents.
But you can understand his motivations, it sucks when you see others living your life. Enjoying things that you so believe could have and should have been yours especially when you have been in jail for many years.
More details of Adonis‘ and Dame‘s relationship are told with flashbacks of their much younger selves. That also helps with the story’s progression and provides answers to some questions about what happened and when.
It is easy for anyone to say that this instalment is the most emotionally driven in the franchise. The are elements of boyish comradery, regret, betrayal and revenge. Both lead men do showcase a good enough range to cover all these emotional elements and they are spotless and their performances in that regard.
We also get to see Adonis’ and Bianca’s (played by Tessa Thompson) relationship tested in a way that hasn’t been seen in any of the previous instalments. For once they looked like an actual married couple with communication problems that threaten to collapse their marriage. The on-screen chemistry between Thompson and Jordan makes this even more worthwhile and valid to the story being told.
The highest point of this film would have to be the fight scenes and how they were shot. They are as intense as can be taking advantage of not just your sight but also serving an equally rewarding auditory experience. You see and almost feel each punch that lands. Fortunately, they don’t seem too outlandish and exaggerated.
Interestingly, however, the make-up and SFX are not overdone. Both Adonis and Dame finish what seems like the most gruesome, pound-for-pound punch fest with barely any serious cuts and bruises. With the way the punches are made to look and sound, you would think that both easily could have broken a bone or two. What’s even more unbelievable is seeing Adonis walking around still fresh with not so much as a limp or stagger after the fight.
Even with its almost 120mins runtime, ‘CREED III’ still does feel like it is rushed to its climax. So much happens so fast in little time with not enough detail to present a reasonable or realistic timeline of events. Even Dame’s first fight is set up and served almost too quickly. You would expect it all not to be that easy.
As a directorial debut for Michael B. Jordan, ‘CREED III’ is an audacious attempt and certainly projects his talents and prospects behind the camera.
The way ‘CREED III’ ends you can see that this isn’t the end of the franchise. It certainly leaves room for another sequel and the possibility of a spinoff or more. With the fourth instalment already confirmed, we can only hope that Jordan gets another crack at being the one calling the shots on set.
‘CREED III’ is showing in cinemas and is certainly one of those films that you are very much likely to enjoy more with the full cinema experience.
As a lover of any form of combat sports, it is hard not to love this film. Even with prior knowledge of how each fight would end, it was still enough to keep me on the edge of my seat.
I would score this film 7.5/10.
It helps to have the previous instalments and their stories fresh in your mind since CREED III doesn’t do much to bring you up to speed. However, I believe you can still just jump right into this and still appreciate it as a good enough movie.