Adonis Creed plans for a happy retirement but things don’t work out for him when an old friend returns.
While many people were a little concerned when it was announced that the Rocky franchise would continue under the umbrella of the Creed films – so far the Creed films have held their own and all be worthy watches. That tradition continues with Creed III that does hold up as a worthy film but also at the same time feels like a missed opportunity.
The film sees Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther) retire as a world champion. His plan is to now spend more time with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson – Thor: Ragnarok) and daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent – The Resident) while being a mentor to young boxers in his stable – such as Felix Chavez (newcomer Jose Benavidez).
However Creed’s plans are put on hold when a ghost from his past, Damian Anderson (Johnathan Majors – Antman & The Wasp: Quantumania), turns up and demands a shot at the Heavyweight Crown because in his mind Creed owes it to him.
When it comes to the storyline of Creed III it is pretty light on which turns out to be the major flaw of the film. The film actually works better early on when it centres around Adonis having to get used to retirement and learning that life can be hard with a hearing-impaired daughter – especially when it seems like she has her Dad’s fighting spirit well and truly entrenched in her.
The introduction of Damian in the film is of course the rightful turning point of the film but it also feels like it is the moment when the film’s plot goes downhill. When Damian’s true colours are revealed he begins to threaten Adonis’ world saying that he will come for everything he has – his title, his career, his house and his family. But realistically Damian doesn’t really see his word out – sure he challenges Adonis to a fight and talks a lot of trash about him – but the threats about coming for his family are pretty hollow when perhaps they shouldn’t be.
With his director’s hat on Michael B. Jordan does do a good job bringing suspense into Creed III – the audience will find themselves on the edge of their seat every time Adonis steps into the ring but imagine how much more suspense could have been generated if the film had become a little darker and Damian did actually put Bianca and Amara in danger – after all he is a dangerous man with all the right connections. Sure it would have taken the film into some darker territory but at the same time it could have made the second half of the film a hell of a lot more interesting – after all the threats are there they just never come into fruition.
The second half of the film does lag a little and it is only resuscitated by the fact that Jordan and his cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau (Thor: The Dark World) making some brave decisions about how to film the last fight. The sequences in which they remove the crowd and just have Damian and Adonis going head-to-head in a hauntingly silent environment are memorable and really brings the film back to life.
What else keeps Creed III from going down for the count are the acting performances. Michael B. Jordan and Johnathan Majors are terrific in the scenes that they share together and when this performance is grouped together with his work in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania it is easy to see why Majors needs to be considered one of the most exciting actors in Hollywood at the moment. Tessa Thompson and Mila Davis-Kent are also great in Creed III and it is just a shame that Amara’s storyline falls away a little in the second half of the film because her acting performance is so good it feels like she should have been given more screen time throughout the film.
Creed III is a serviceable film but it is also a film that could have been a lot better. Not having Sylvester Stallone appear in the film or at least having a throwaway line that would suggest where Rocky in these days feels like a huge mistake while the film’s lacklustre second half suggests that something else needed to be done during the script-writing process. The film is saved by the acting performances of its leads, but it is disappointing when you realise this is a film that could have been a lot better.