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Review: Creed III – “The perfect cap to this spin-off”

Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed and Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson in
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film
Photo credit: Eli Ade
© 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The ninth instalment to the Rocky franchise is an explosive cap to the spin-off trilogy focusing on Adonis Creed. Sticking to well-worn story beats, anyone who has followed the franchise over the decades will see where the film is going, but Michael B Jordan takes the franchise to more personal places than it has before. Jordan stars and for the first time, directs the movie bringing with him a wealth of experience from working with some of the best directors in Hollywood and his time as the character Adonis Creed. He also brings his love of anime, directly referencing anime in Adonis’s childhood bedroom wall in the very first scene. There’s a cleanness to his direction outside of the ring and a ferocity and stylishness inside the ring using his anime influences.

What fans may miss and is noticeable is Rocky himself. Sylvester ‘Sly’ Stallone is not present in the film, even at times when you think he may show up to provide one of his trademark inspiring speeches to Adonis. The absence is noticeable but the film is not hurt by his departure. Creed 3 is an incredible film, but as a Rocky film that will be up for debate.

Set a few years after Creed 2, Adonis has retired as heavyweight champion, now working as a promoter when he bumps into his childhood friend Damian. Damian (Jonathan Majors) has spent 18 years in prison and now that he’s out, he’s eager to get into the ring. As the two reconnect, Adonis tries to temper expectations while also reconnecting with a part of his past he’d rather forget about.

This isn’t made easy when his mother, played by Phylicia Rashad who delivers one of the most moving scenes in the film, tries to protect him from his old friend and ways. Tessa Thompson also returns as his wife, as they both try to raise their deaf daughter, the adorable Mila Davis-Kent. Creed 3 chooses to build on these established characters and give them deeper connections with Adonis and the audience. Even former adversaries Ricky Conlan and Ivan Drago (reprised by Tony Bellew and Florian Munteanu respectively) return to give the film a sense of history.

Damian moves forward with his plan to be the next champion, using some cunning and deception to get what he wants. While Creed still tries to see the best in his old friend. Inevitably the two can only settle their score in the ring, leading to the most interesting but also fantastical fight we’ve ever seen in the Rocky franchise. Stylistically it can be a little jarring but it keeps the fight fresh, I only wish the trademark training montage was better.

Creed 3 is the perfect cap to this spin-off which proved the franchise had not just legs but also the gravitas to inspire and deliver touching stories. While I find it impossible to believe this will be the last film in the franchise I think this would be a great place to end.

Creed III is in cinemas on 3rd March 2023.

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