I gotta be honest, y’all, I slept on Creed for years. It wasn’t until I saw Jonathan Majors was slated to be in the third one that I sat down and caught up on the entire series (of Creed, not Rocky, I’m not a masochist). And, as it should come as no surprise, it is a wonderful series of movies, with standout performances, heartfelt stories, and that feel-good that you can only get from a true sports movie. So after catching up, I was more than excited to watch Creed III and lucky enough to get tickets to an early screening, so let’s talk about it!
I will just come swinging out of the gate (pun intended) and say that Creed III is my favorite Creed movie, which says a lot given how good the series has been. Debut director Michael B. Jordan clearly gets this character and this franchise, perhaps even better than the two previous directors. His movie feels alive with personality, not just from the characters, but from the very setting and atmosphere itself. His boxing sequences are the best of the series in terms of feeling realistic, and his creative choices surrounding how he films those sequences are phenomenal.
The movie picks up some years down the road, with Creed retired and working as more of a boxing promoter than a fighter. When his childhood friend shows up with a bone to pick, though, things start heating up. This is where Jonathan Majors takes over as a force to be reckoned with, as he does in every movie he’s been in. Though he tends to steal his scenes, Jordan still holds his own as Creed, which creates some truly electrifying moments both in and out of the ring.
What sets this iteration apart from its predecessors for me is how personal it becomes. It’s not about Creed overcoming his legacy–it’s about him overcoming his past. That’s represented in human form by Majors’ Dame Anderson, but also comes out as he struggles to communicate to Bianca (his wife) and his mom. His world gets turned upside down, and this is a boxing movie, so the only way out is to fight… obviously.
Now this movie is the first in the franchise(s) to omit Rocky from the lineup, and honestly, I didn’t miss him. He’s mentioned in passing, so presumably still around the universe, but having him absent gave more room for Creed and Dame to take the spotlight. I fear that including Sylvester Stallone in this would have muddied the waters and made the movie less focused, so ultimately, I think leaving Rocky out is the right call.
Boxing is one of the few sports that is about just two people. Nothing else matters once the bell rings, and by framing the movie as Creed fighting against his past demons, you get a perfect metaphor. It’s not a new one. The Rocky and Creed movies both tried to tackle to the same metaphor, but Jordan has it perfected here.
It’s the end of February and this is my first S-Tier movie of the year. I can only hope we get more movies this good down the road.
Should you watch it? If you like sports movies.
Should you take your kids? Probably not; Jordan pulls no punches (again, pun intended) when it comes to filming the brutality of the sport.
What you should watch first: A well-prepared individual would watch all of the Rocky films and then both Creed films, but at a minimum you should probably watch 2015’s Creed.