By Samuel M Acosta
I hadn’t seen any of the Creed movies when I first saw the trailer for “Creed 3.” I was never a huge fan of sports movies and I never had a great deal of interest in boxing. Yet the story seemed unlike what other sports movies seemed to offer and the fact that this film was Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut was enough to pull me in. I binged the first two movies in a day and then immediately went to the theater to see the newest installment, and I loved every second of it. Not only are the first two movies amazing, but “Creed 3” takes a bold step toward a new era of sports films, both in its storytelling and cinematography.
“Creed 3” follows Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) after he decides to retire and quit boxing. After creating a strong legacy, his focus begins to shift toward his family and his gym. But when his childhood friend Damian (Jonathan Majors) comes back to town after a stint in prison, Adonis is forced to face some demons from his past. Jealous of his friend’s boxing success, Damian begins to try and form his own legacy, doing so with sheer brutality. After calling for a challenge, Adonis has to not only fight someone from his past, but also his past itself.
First and foremost, this film boasts an absolute powerhouse of a cast. Michael B. Jordan, of course, is an incredible actor who brings depth to Adonis. This installment shows us a side of Adonis that we haven’t seen before, as we watch him have to fight hard outside the ring as well as in, and Jordan brings sincerity to this struggle. Jonathan Majors is an absolute powerhouse, giving Damian a raw and brutal energy that makes it seem like nothing can stop his character, not even Adonis. Tessa Thompson, playing Adonis’ wife Bianca, also gives an incredible performance that evokes genuine emotion and engages the audience easily.
The fighting sequences in this installment are also far superior to the previous films. Taking inspiration from anime, Michael B. Jordan uses a bit more creative liberty in choreographing and filming these sequences. This creates some incredibly thrilling fights, albeit slightly less realistic. I especially loved the final fight with Damian, as it doesn’t feel like two boxers going at it, but two forces of nature clashing in the ring. I felt myself physically moving around in my seat as I watched it all go down, which shows how connected the film makes the audience feel to the action.
The final fight is one of the most artistic sequences I have seen in a non-art-house film in a long time. Once Damian and Adrian begin to fight, the crowd disappears, showing how this is not just a boxing match, but a true fight between rivals. The crowd doesn’t matter. Only them. This is such a bold choice, especially as there are special effects that take realism out of the equation, but the symbolism is so pointed that it doesn’t mess with the pacing at all. It is just plain beautiful to watch.
The story is much darker and more gritty than the previous films. These films normally follow a similar plot formula: the underdog fighter goes up against a stronger opponent to secure a legacy. It can make the movies all feel similar. This is not the case with “Creed 3.” We already see Adonis has a strong legacy. The focus is now on his inner turmoil and a relationship with a childhood friend whom he abandoned which leads to the fight. It felt so much more engaging to have an emotional motivation for the fight, rather than just trying to win a belt. With each scene between Damian and Adonis, you can feel the tension and the history become tangible. While some might not like the stray from the typical story formula, I thought that this was a major improvement for not only the franchise but sports films as a whole.
I also love seeing Adonis interact with his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). The intentionality in making sure that the ASL is realistic and shows both the beauty and the hardship of being deaf, especially with Bianca beginning to lose more of her hearing and quitting performing because of it, is so genuine and feels like a crucial aspect of the movie’s heartbeat.
Overall, I absolutely love this movie. The story would be compelling enough on its own, but with the incredibly creative fighting sequences, it becomes a true sensation. For his directorial debut, Michael B. Jordan hits it out of the park, and I think that he could become a big name in directing within the coming years.
I give “Creed 3” a 9/10.
“Creed 3” is now playing in theaters.
Samuel M Acosta is a Senior Theatre Comprehensive Major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing plays.
Images courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer