Creed III

By Joanna Langfield

A solid hit that could have been a gut punch, this chapter of the Apollo Creed story gets the job done.

Michael B. Jordan directs as well as stars, impressively, bringing us back into Creed’s life as a retired champion. Everything and everybody seem settled in, making the most out of the hand they’ve been dealt. Bianca is now producing records for others, little Amara’s interested in following her father’s footsteps and Adonis cruises around LA, in between his boxing gym and spectacular home, in a Rolls so imposing, he doesn’t even bother to close the windows when he parks it. It’s all good. Until Damian, a friend of Adonis’s from childhood, shows up.

The arc of the story will surprise no one. And that’s okay. We’ve come to expect the fights and the struggles, both in and out of the ring. And we signed up for those boxing close ups, the matches that we are told are strategic, but carry so much more weight. And Jordan delivers all of that well, moving things along at a swift pace. And maybe, for me, that is the problem. The actor proves he can stage and tell us a story, but I wish he had spent a little more time on the emotions of it all. The drama is there, it’s on the page, but just when we’re getting into the heart of what’s making a return to the ring so important, the camera cuts away to the maybe cooler close-ups of blood spurting and flesh being upper cut.

But all of that seems to take a backseat to Jonathan Majors, who I couldn’t take my eyes off of, as Damien. Just the way he carries himself, turns his head, is fascinating and delivers more impact than any physical punch he lands. What a treat it is to watch this superb actor soar in the very commercial movies he has only made better.