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Movies & TV

24th Feb 2023

Creed III has absolutely no right to be this good

Rory Cashin

Creed III

The new Creed sequel arrives in cinemas this week.

Creed III is the ninth movie in the Rocky franchise. NINTH! Let that sink in for a moment. The first Creed movie was itself the first entry in the series’ second attempt at rebooting itself, with 2006’s semi-successfully Rocky Balboa arriving 16 years after the previous movies, but nearly a full decade before the focus would shift to Adonis – son of Apollo – Creed.

This was the series that had the world heavyweight champion step into the ring with Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, and featured several scenes with a talking robot. Additionally, this third Creed movie sees the movie’s star – Michael B. Jordan – step behind the camera as director for the first time in his career, which previously worked out both pretty good for Stallone (Rocky II) and pretty bad for Stallone (Rocky IV).

So, yes, Creed III has absolutely no right to be any good, let alone this good. As it stands, it instantly becomes one of the best entries in the franchise to date, and it comes down to two specific things: (1) Jordan directs the fights in this movie like they’re huge action scenes. They’re given an IMAX-sense of scale which fully fits the epic nature of this personal story, and (2) Jonathan Majors. We cannot overemphasise how good Jonathan Majors is in this movie.

Between this and Ant-Man 3, Jonathan Majors is going to own 2023

In the same way that Adonis Creed (Jordan) was given a helping hand by someone who was intrinsically linked with his past and how his life turned out (in that case, Rocky), he is given the opportunity to do something similar here. When his childhood friend Damian “Dame” Anderson (Majors) is released from prison, Creed tries to help him out as best he can.

But Dame has only one goal in mind: a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, a title that Adonis has bowed out from since Creed II, focusing instead of his businesses, along with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Amara (Mila Davis-Kent).

Majors infuses Dame with such a unique form of barely concealed rage that you cannot take your eyes off his for a single second. Entering the game at a much older age than his competitors, fuelled by years spent in prison and actively missing out on a chance at his dream, his physicality is both impressive and oppressive, even on screen you immediately become concerned for anyone within his grasp.

Of course, Jordan and Thompson are both brilliant in their roles too, adding extra layers of complicated dynamics to their characters and relationships that they’ve now been playing for nearly a decade. The script, co-written by Zach Baylin (who previously penned Will Smith’s Oscar-winner King Richard), brings a multifaceted nature to the story, subtly revealing topics like institutional and generational systems of abuse and the psychological impact they can have.

Beyond that, for anyone not wanting to get too emotionally caught up in the story, there are also very impressive workout montages, including scenes of Michael B. Jordan literally pulling an entire airplane. So, y’know, something for everyone.

Creed III arrives in cinemas on Friday, 3 March.

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