Creed III (2023) Movie Review – A stylish, well-made boxing film that’s not quite a knockout blow

A stylish, well-made boxing film that’s not quite a knockout blow

“I need you to let go of your fear, let go of the guilt, let go of whatever was, and walk into what is.” These are the words Duke instills into Adonis Creed during the final fight of the film. And more than anything else, this feels like a nod toward the Creed series as a whole and, in particular, toward Creed III.

No longer is this film franchise clinging to the past; instead Creed is taking its first tentative steps into the squared circle, ready to brave all challengers that come its way.

The first film stuck closely to what made Rocky so successful while Creed II felt very much like a copycat archetype of Rocky IV, complete with a big bout in Russia and a montage set in unforgiving terrain (albeit a desert rather than a a frozen wilderness). Creed III though, feels like a very different animal.

From the opening flashback to Los Angeles in 2002, it’s immediately clear that this is a gritty and different direction for the franchise. Directed by Michael B. Jordan, the film depicts a bitter and intensely personal feud between Adonis Creed and his childhood friend Damian Anderson.

Adonis has retired from professional boxing, having hung up his gloves and is struggling to find his place in a post-boxing world. He’s putting all his weight behind raising the next crop of superstars, including current champ Felix Chavez. Drago is still kicking about too and Donnie is serving as promoter for the “fight of the year” between the two.

When Damian Anderson returns to the scene, Adonis finds his world turned upside down as he has to reckon with the past while simultaneously looking to the future. This inevitably turns ugly when the truth about Dame and Adonis’ past is unveiled and the tension spills over both inside and outside the ring.

What’s particularly good about Creed III is that human element which gives gravitas and weight to every character. While Adonis’ journey from being haunted by past to accepting and understanding what’s happened is well realized, there’s a similar deeply personal conflict for both Bianca Creed and Dame Anderson. In fact, one could argue the same could be said for Mary-Anne and Amara, Adonis’ daughter, too, who all get a good chunk of the screen-time.

Of course, we’re all here for the boxing and thankfully Creed III doesn’t disappoint. Jordan said himself before the film released that he was heavily inspired by anime with the big fights and you can really feel that in these conflicts. Thankfully, there’s no 3 hour long “ki-charging” sequence (looking at you, Goku!) but the camera work in particular lives and breathes by the conventional beats seen in that genre.

There are plenty of extreme close-ups, lots of silent contemplation in far-away stares and a very unique perspective for the final fight, which is a bold, unusual and creatively beautiful way of depicting this match-up, which I’m not about to spoil here.

Creed III does a lot with its 2 hour run-time and in a way, this needed about 15 minutes more to flesh out the final act and iron out some of the cliched plot beats along the way. The final fight acceptance between Dame and Adonis feels a bit rushed while the circumstances leading to Dame’s first fight are a tad contrived and ham-fisted.

In fact, that slightly rushed finale and the formulaic nature of its plot are probably the film’s weakest elements. A bit more care over bringing Dame and Adonis together in the ring and a couple of surprises along the way in an otherwise formulaic and predictable screenplay, could have really helped this one shine.

Creed III is a solid movie despite these issues. This is a well-made, enjoyable boxing film and while it’s not out to reinvent the wheel, it is out to entertain you and in that respect, Creed III hits a solid right hook, even if it’s not quite the knock-out blow it could have been.


Read More: Creed III Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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