Michael B. Jordan makes a stunning directorial debut in “Creed III”
The world of film is no stranger to great sports movies. There’s a reason why so many of them become classics and are watched by generations over—Rocky undoubtedly included. Some may have had their doubts on the future of this iconic franchise that was started by Sylvester Stallone in the 1970s, but Creed III, under the helm of Michael B. Jordan silences these worries.
The film really starts with a picture of Adonis Creed (Jordan) we haven’t seen before: he’s woken up in the middle of the day by his daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), to join her in a tea party; he then tries to seduce his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who’s still busy with her career as music producer. Retirement, evidently, agrees with him. But he isn’t out of the game of boxing, however, as he’s still an avid supporter of the sport and keeps busy promoting the next generation of athletes.
But when Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors), shows up beside Creed’s Rolls Royce, the film really gets started.
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Damian and Adonis were like brothers growing up, but back than, the former was the rising boxing star—until a run-in with the cops put him in jail for 18 years. Having served his time, Damian is eager to get back in the ring, and he pretty much guilt trips Adonis until he gets his shot at a title fight. Damian’s methods of winning—and personality—are questionable, and pushes Adonis to get out of retirement and back into shape for a showdown.
There is something brewing in each scene that Jordan and Majors share, from their first meal to the film’s final brawl. Adonis battles with his regret and guilt at each turn, and Damian plays to them like the mastermind he is. It isn’t until those final rounds—where Michael B. Jordan opts for a fantastical and emotional telling of their fight instead of the all-out battle it really is—that these two players shake away their pasts. And it’s really with these two that Creed III makes it worthy of its name.
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With Jordan’s directorial eye and Major’s sheer talent on screen, there are very few mistakes made in the film. Despite the limited look at their history together and his limited character development, Majors ticks off all the boxes of an underdog villain; so much so that Damian’s story feels complete. He makes the journey from loving big brother to arch nemesis, from young contender to aged yet powerful challenger.
But matching Major’s performance is Jordan’s critically-acclaimed directorial debut. Michael B. Jordan has not only proven that the iconic boxing franchise can survive with Rocky, he’s taken it into a direction that is undoubtedly fresh. Jordan has opened the door to a new legacy featuring Adonis and Adonis only.
“Creed III” is showing in theaters.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver