Creed III (Spoiler-Free) Review: An incredible trilogy ender that defines the Creed legacy

The Creed films have handled the torch of the Rocky franchise incredibly well thus far charting a new legacy through Adonis’ personal story while still embodying the spirit of the beloved franchise that came before. The latest entry, Creed III, continues that trend excellently, even without Rocky present, by delivering an Adonis-focused story that’s acts as a true grudge match with his past.

Although this is the first time Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is without Rocky on screen, his solo story has some clear Rocky DNA in it, specifically Rocky III and V. A now-retired Adonis is living a luxurious life with him now focused on forging the next great fighters in his gym as well as his family with Bianca (Tessa Thompson). However, things change when Adonis’ old friend Damian (Jonathan Majors) comes back into his life after spending nearly two decades in prison. In an effort to help his old friend get back on his feet, Adonis indulges Damian’s aspirations to get back in the ring to restart his career. Adonis quickly realizes though that Damian’s got more than getting back in the ring on his mind. He’s got a personal grudge against Adonis for something that happened prior to him being arrested forcing Adonis to face Damian and his past head-on.

Even with Adonis being on his own now, Creed III embodies the essence of a memorable Rocky-styled story through Adonis’ personal struggles. Damian’s emergence genuinely unlocks a part of Adonis that he was desperate to keep hidden. There’s instant tension and palpable uneasiness even when Adonis and Damian seem to be rocking it like old times with big smiles on their faces. The intensity of their past coming into the present boils perfectly throughout to create a suspenseful atmosphere and once Damian’s got power, he utilizes it well to make Adonis’ life hell.

At times, it can genuinely feel like Adonis is kicked back to the bottom and it makes for a great arc in him having to face Damian and his unresolved feelings. Creed III sees Adonis be his most vulnerable yet as he struggles to open up about his resurfaced trauma and face what happened between him and Damian. Truthfully, it’s not too hard to piece together what happened between them, but watching Adonis and Damian still be affected by it gives their dynamic and conflict a lot of engaging power. In some ways, you see Adonis go back to his roots and it’s what makes this story such a great trilogy ender.

Damian is also an incredible force in Creed III being a unique antagonist in this franchise. While most of the Rocky/Creed antagonists can mostly be seen as these big hulking brutes ready to rip their opponents’ head off, Damian has some brain to go with the brawn. With the way he plans things and studies the movements and styles of potential opponents, there are deeper parts to his character than just how hard he punches. Damian really feels like the ultimate test for Adonis with how much he means to him both as an opponent and a former friend, which is what makes their conflict have such a strong impact.

Majors is, as expected, absolutely perfect in this film and really shows himself to be the total package. His acting is top-notch with the way he makes Damian an unexpected threat and he brings the perfect blend of emotional turmoil and power-hungry cockiness that makes Damian a captivating entity. Plus, with him going toe to toe with an acting talent like Jordan, who continues to be fantastic as Adonis, it’s really like watching two modern acting talents fight for supremacy. They’re a total knockout pairing that make every aspect of Creed III’s narrative endlessly engaging and really the whole cast is great. Jordan, however, does a little more this time around to further elevate his impact in this franchise.

Creed III sees Jordan make his directorial debut and he shows some impressive vision for the fights and big emotional moments. The fight sequences are just as stunning and immersive as ever with some of the stellar camerawork and direction Jordan has. The way he’s able to showcase perspective really hooks viewers into the action and it’s great how he also brings in some of the flair and showmanship of boxing.

The finale fight is easily one of the best of franchise with some of the ambition Jordan shows in creating standout moments. He’s able to bring the personal grudge of Adonis and Damien out in a fun way by letting them have the ring all to themselves and the anime inspirations Jordan has mentioned leading up the film come through greatly to elevate the harsh hits and more immersive filmmaking. Jordan shows himself to potentially have a great new career avenue as a director and if he continues to work within this franchise, he could really take it to new heights. Jordan handles some of the big emotional moments of Creed III excellently as well and there’s a major conversation between Adonis and his mom (Phylicia Rashad) that’ll easily make tears flow.

The only places where Creed III falters is in some of its post-finale fight content since it leaves some story threads hanging and wraps up far too quick. There’s a whole storyline built around Adonis and Bianca’s daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) wanting to learn how to fight but not being able to find a sense of control. This storyline really doesn’t go anywhere and feels like a disconnected part of the film. It’s attempted to be brought back in the end, but it doesn’t feel like it means much or offers a real ending. Also, even though Little Duke (Wood Harris) is shown in flashbacks of Damian and Jordan as kids, he’s not utilized well in the story to offer a different perspective on their conflict or Damian as a whole.

Creed III is an excellent end to the Creed trilogy with it not only proving that this legacy-defining trilogy can stand firmly on its own, but also that Jordan is a rising talent behind the camera. Jordan’s vision for Creed III’s fights and personal narrative make it a nearly flawless experience that’s visually stunning and surprisingly moving. Majors and Jordan are captivating in the way their grudge fuels the film’s fiery energy, and Creed III shows itself to be an undisputed showstopper that deserves to be seen on the big screen.


Watch the Trailer Here:

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