FILM REVIEW — “Creed III” flies high

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 3, 2023

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“Creed III”

United Artists

Directed by Michael B. Jordan

Starring Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad and Florian Munteanu

Rated PG-13

3 Stars

I recall being a little worried when it was announced that Michael B. Jordan would be making his directorial debut in “Creed III.”

Hollywood has a long history of movie stars stumbling when they decided to try their hand at directing. Jordan is a very charismatic actor, but that’s a different skill set than what’s required to helm a major Hollywood film.

I’m pleased to report the actor acquits himself nicely in his first film. This is a crowd-pleasing popcorn movie that, much like the third film in the original “Rocky” franchise, proves to be an energetic jolt for the “Creed” series as well.

“Creed III” begins with the world champion boxer (Jordan) enjoying retirement at home with his wife (Tessa Thompson) and daughter (Mila Davis-Kent). He seems to have found his happy ending until a childhood friend (Jonathan Majors) shows up, newly released from prison and looking for a title shot against one of the fighters that Creed is training.

Despite his gut instinct that something isn’t quite right, Creed gives in to his friend’s demands, only to discover he’s not quite what he seems to be. Without spoiling anything, events conspire to force our retired hero to get back in the ring and put things right.

It all ends with a thrilling final bout, as well as a rousing training montage, which his become the calling card in each of the “Rocky” and “Creed” movies.

As I said, this is a well-defined franchise, so there isn’t anything in this story that feels particularly new here. Yet “Creed III” works so well because the franchise is practically on rails, something that allows this particular entry ample opportunity to spend time with the characters.

Jonathan Majors is the major addition to the franchise, and he proves to be a formidable villain. He spends the first half of the film covered up by bulky sweatshirts, but when he finally shows off his torso, he is so jacked that you start to wonder if any fighter could ever beat him.

If that’s not enough, Major turns out to be a very talented actor as well, revealing a backstory that almost makes you cheer for him as well.

More kudos, as there’s a trio of women giving the film some nice emotional moments as well. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad are solid as always, but it’s Davis-Kent, playing Creed’s deaf daughter who steals the show here.

She may be a pre-teen girl trying to figure out her life, but she is definitely her daddy’s daughter. If there’s a “Creed IV,” I would love to find her becoming the new face of the franchise.

All of which bodes well for “Creed III,” and any future installments. The action is absolutely thrilling and features some nice cinematic flourishes — I especially liked the slow-motion closeup shots that reveal the power of the punches.

I think the story is a bit predictable, but the acting is superb. The final bout will get you cheering, and best of all, the training montage will have you grinning in remembrance of all the past films in the franchise.

Surprisingly, Sylvester Stallone doesn’t appear this time out, but the “Creed” films are on such solid footing now that even without Rocky, the franchise continues to fly.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at