Majors v. Jordan: who do ya got? (CREDIT: : Eli Ade/© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Tessa Thompson, Alex Henderson, Spence Moore II, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Mila Davis-Kent

Director: Michael B. Jordan

Running Time: 116 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for The Violence of the Game

Release Date: March 3, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, Alex Henderson in flashbacks) has hung up his gloves and turned his focus towards training other fighters. But we’re all savvy enough to know what’s coming next. Something’s always lurking around the corner to pull the hero back in. In this case, it’s a surprise from the past in the form of childhood friend Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors, Spence Moore II in flashbacks), who was once a promising boxer himself before a lengthy prison stay on weapons charges. Despite his advanced age by boxing standards, Dame his sights set on the heavyweight title, and that unhinged ambition threatens to wreck the stability of Adonis’ personal and professional lives.

What Made an Impression?: Creed III marks Jordan’s directorial debut, and he certainly puts his visual stamp on the action within the ring. Slo-mos and zooms zip around the open space to emphasize every inch of pummeling these shirtless bodies endure. This movie absolutely does not shy away from the blood and bruises inherent to the subject matter. This isn’t a revolutionary take, but it is an effective one, and I found myself wincing more than I’d hoped to. And with that in mind, I couldn’t help but wonder if we as a species should just retire boxing once and for all. Now, I’m no expert on the sport’s modern rules and regulations, so maybe there are sufficient precautions to prevent any tragedies. But it’s still a fundamentally violent pursuit, and Creed III very much underscored that truth.

As for the relationship drama, it’s positively Shakespearean, and deployed with maximum operatic tumult. Dame is like a Falstaff cast out of the kingdom, but much more dangerous than that jolly royal companion. I was a little surprised by just how animalistic Majors allowed himself to be. At this point, Creed has established its own identity separate from its Rocky origin, and that was true even before Sylvester Stallone decided to sit this chapter out. Even so, Creed III has no interest in forgoing the standard training montage and climactic title bout. But when the storytelling instincts are so strong, and the actors are so unflinchingly committed, the power of the straightforward storytelling comes through.

Creed III is Recommended If You Like: Letters from prison, ASL conversations, Yet another training montage

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Title Matches