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CREED III: Michael B. Jordan Stakes His Claim In New Weight Class

It’s been a long 5 years since the last time we saw Adonis Creed in the ring, but Michael B. Jordan hasn’t lost his groove when it comes to playing the titular boxer. In fact, it seems that Jordan felt more confident than ever putting the gloves back on, because for Creed III, the star also decided to get behind the camera and make his directorial debut. With some new flair and an immensely compelling antagonistic force in Jonathan Majors, this third film in the Creed franchise proves itself a capable and efficient fighter in the ring of endless franchise reboots and legacy sequels. What’s most exciting about Majors in this role is the sheer unpredictably of his behavioral performance. With all due respect to these films, they’re mostly predictable as far as their end goals and how they get to them. So the key to making something like Creed III feel fresh is in its performances. Some great montage-work and well-choreographed fights help too (of which this film has both). When it comes to Majors and his fighting style, it’s a performance that feels so raw and untamed in the ring that genuine fear may begin to settle into the viewer. As he slams his head time and time again for the sheer purpose of riling himself up, each hit feels like a wrecking ball inching ever closer to his opponents. It’s maddeningly effective, and Majors is a sheer force to be reckoned with in this film.

There’s also a really great, vulnerable performance here in Jordan. I honestly wish the film was able to get to the more emotional aspects of Creed’s arc quicker, as it makes for a compelling and impactful watch. It’s a reminder of why this is probably Jordan’s best performed character of his career. His love for the growth, and the film franchise as a whole, really shows in the few moments of openness he grants those around him. But Jordan is also acutely aware that his audience is coming for some great fights as well, and Creed III delivers. Leading up to the release of this film, there was much talk about the unique flair that Jordan added to the anticipated fight sequences. His love for anime is well-documented, so his attempt at translating some of those elements into live-action comes as a welcome experiment, and a mostly fun visual exercise. I do wish my expectations were tampered a bit going into the film, as it seemed like the fights would be a vast departure from its predecessors. It’s mainly the same, aside from Jordan’s Naruto-esque flourishes, but when he fully leans into those tendencies, it works shockingly well. One could argue that its sparsity is what makes it so effective, but it was such fun that my senses couldn’t help but crave more. As the two men battle each other and themselves simultaneously, each punch becomes more impactful than the last, until dual devastating blows rip the two back into screeching reality.

Thematically, Creed III mainly keeps to its own specific lane. The script plays to its strengths very well, and isn’t too concerned with finessing itself into a different one. It’s thinking in terms of haymakers rather than perfectly placed jabs. There are some underexplored avenues I would have loved to see fleshed out more, such as Creed and Bianca’s (a lovely Tessa Thompson) daughter, who excels in school, but pulls a bit too much from the tendencies of her father. As stated, much of it connects due to the broad scope of it all, but getting into the nitty gritty, similarly to how the fights are captured, would work wonders on an already great film. Nevertheless, by the time the bell rings and the genuinely stunning final fight comes to a close, you’ll realize how locked in to the film you were over the course of a crisp two hours. If this is the end of the Creed trilogy, it’s certainly a fitting send-off, but if this film proves anything, it’s that there is certainly plenty of potential for more flair, more finesse, and more fun in the franchise.

Creed III is currently showing in theaters.

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