The ‘Rocky’ saga is back in theaters around the world. Following the retirement of the legendary boxer, his pupil Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, has taken over as the protagonist and with this installment closes his first trilogy. ‘Creed III’ is, in fact, a film in which for the first time the protagonist does not have the help of Rocky himself after the departure of Sylvester Stallone from the franchise.
Adonis, played by Michael B. Jordan, must face the ghosts of his past with a rival well known to him. Dame Anderson was his childhood best friend, who taught him all about boxing when they were just kids. However, Dame’s sudden imprisonment cut short his promising sports career. Now, decades later, he wants to fulfill his dream of being a champion. And to get it, he will fight his way.
An exceptional antagonist
Dame’s character is played by Jonathan Majors, who in recent weeks has become one of the hottest names in Hollywood. His role as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel has earned him consolidation at the top of the industry. And in ‘Creed III’ he shows that his talent is well worth it, as he is by far one of the best ingredients in the set.
Majors delivers a sensational portrayal of Dame, a character with innumerable intricacies that hide fear, anger, and longing. Thanks to his gestures, he is capable of transmitting pity and tenderness as well as rejection and hatred, adapting himself perfectly to each situation that the film presents. To this is added an enormous physical corpulence, making him a worthy rival of Adonis. It is undeniable that Majors has given himself body and soul to the role.
And it is that Dame is, without a doubt, the best antagonist of the entire ‘Creed’ saga. Against her previous rivals, who either had little context or were too anchored in the legacy of the Rocky movies, Dame Anderson is the perfect counterpart to Adonis. A self-made man at the bottom and hardest of society. An old dog who knows how to manipulate people, who knows he can only trust himself because that’s all he’s got.and that he does whatever it takes to get out of the putrefaction of the life that has touched him and thus make the hole that he believes belongs to him in history.
This is a very accurate approximation already from the script of ‘Creed III’ to what must be the “bad guy” of a sports drama of these characteristics. It must be a great rival when it comes to fighting, but above all it must convey the truth. Because someone like Dame has nothing to lose and everything to gain. And that makes him dangerous. With its own interesting background, it is reminiscent of Stallone’s best rivals, but infused with current events to be the piece that rounds off the trilogy and closes this stage of Adonis’s life.
An exciting debut
Equally admirable, on Jordan’s part, is his film directing debut. The young interpreter has finally taken a step that he had been looking for for years and has placed himself behind the cameras to put the finishing touch. Aware of the importance of the film, the now filmmaker carries out an exercise on safety and without excessive frills in which the priority is to advance the story.
The result is very solid. Jordan shows not only that he handles the language perfectly, but also that he has been involved with the saga for so many years that he assimilates the norms of the genre. It is not for nothing that he wants to expand his Creedverse. Throughout the footage he precisely balances the tension of the sport with scenes of intimate drama in which Adonis’ past and present collide like two trains head-on. Each scene adds up, and in all of them he puts the camera where it should.
Where Jordan licenses are allowed is in the combat sequences. The young man has repeatedly recognized himself as a big fan of anime series. Thus, he has based his action scenes on them, using some stylistic resources that do not always work as in animation. But when they do, they raise the bar for the entire film, making it a real treat for viewers looking to see two sculpted body types violently and explicitly slap each other.
Boxing and cinema, an eternal love
Because if ‘Creed III’ is an exponent of something, it is that boxing movies will never go out of style. They are by far the most exploited and well-developed type of sports drama in movie history. The literature of seeing someone fighting for their dreams to the point of materializing it in gloves and a ring is still a tremendously attractive spectacle.
As heir to all of these, ‘Creed III’ follows its most basic structure to the millimeter. Some powerful action at the beginning, a personal reason to risk your face, hard training sequences to the rhythm of motivating music… And a dizzying ending. Unfortunately, it also falls into some of the usual sins. When the script spends too much time spinning on itself, interest wanes, no matter how hard Jordan, Majors and the always sensational Tessa Thompson try. But he immediately takes air again and takes flight before the judge counts 10.
Repercussions for the saga
Apart from the story itself, the film’s main point of interest is to see how it would develop without Stallone. The actor left the franchise very angry with producer Irwin Winkler, to whom he sold the rights when he was nearly broke. According to the creator and actor of Rocky, Winkler has taken the opportunity to exploit his work to exhaustion, a strategy in which he refuses to participate.
In any case, ‘Creed III’ does not deny its roots. Superficially, a couple of winks are thrown at Balboa, although the film is clear at all times that it must walk by itself and not focus on who is no longer there. And it succeeds, because the feeling of melancholy fades successfully.
In addition, the Creedverse continues to take steps towards its materialization. Jordan’s dream is getting closer, and once again he is in charge of leaving a good handful of doors open in case he wants to cross them in the future. With ‘Creed II: The Legend of Rocky’, Viktor, the descendant of Ivan Drago, Rocky’s mythical rival, was already introduced. Father and son already have a confirmed spin-off, although after this installment more will surely arrive. Special mention deserves little Amara Creed, the protagonist’s daughter.
In short, ‘Creed III’ is everything it should be. A magnificent sequel that portentously closes the trilogy. Jordan pulls his trade and claw for his first job as a director, and Jonathan Majors shines with a much more interesting antagonist than seen so far in the saga. The icing on the cake are the new visuals for the fights, a barbaric addition.
The best: Jordan’s behind-the-scenes debut, the new aesthetic style for fights, much more dynamic and attractive; and Jonathan Majors.
Worst: He gets so attached to the boxing drama archetype that he makes the same old mistakes.