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‘Creed III’ Is a Masterclass in Pain, Resentment, and Heartbreak

4.5/5 matches

Michael B. Jordan in Creed III

The Creed movies continue to just get better and better. While the first two movies gave us a new dynamic between Rocky Balboa and the son of Apollo Creed, Adonis, Creed III brings us a very personal story of Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and his friend Damian (Jonathan Majors), who he left behind. A slight departure from the normal format we’ve come to know from both the Rocky movies and the Creed movies, Creed III is hands down the best of this part of the franchise for how it handles relationships mixed in with the boxing elements we’ve come to love and expect from these movies.

Directed by Michael B. Jordan, the movie is a look into Adonis’ past right as he retires from the sport, ready to go out on a high and leave the world of boxing behind him. What he’s not prepared for is a ghost from his past coming back and changing how he thinks about his life and career. Adonis has what he’s always wanted, but it came at a cost—something that Damian reminds him about.

The two grew up together, living in a group home with one another before Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) took Adonis into her home. Donnie and Damian became brothers and partners and would train together and would meet up even after Mary Anne gave Adonis a home, but one night would lead Damian to twenty years in prison, while Creed went on to be the heavyweight champion.

And that guilt pervades throughout the film, making Adonis’ journey with Damian hard for him to unpack and really making Creed III stand out from the rest of the franchise.

The guilt that drives Adonis in Creed III

Jonathan Majors boxing in Creed III
(Eli Ade/MGM)

Adonis was a kid when Damian got locked up, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help his friend reach the boxing goals he always harbored. Where the movie really shines is in Damian pushing Adonis too far, and they’re both forced to realize what needs to be done. It’s another powerhouse of a boxing movie, mixed with the real pain of a lost friendship and performances from Majors and Jordan that are unmatched.

The Creed movies stand out so much because they understand the heart of their characters and express it in their own ways. Adonis can’t handle talking about his feelings, but he can box, and he meets his match with Damian, who is more of the same. One of the moments that will truly stay with you long after the movie is over is when both Adonis and Damian are fighting and the two are on the verge of crying. You can feel their pain and the anger they’ve held onto about what happened.

Overall, it’s a movie about trust being broken, friendships lost, and how we move past that to be our best selves even if the cards are stacked against us. It is, in my opinion, the best of the Creed franchise yet and a film that highlights Jordan’s abilities as both an actor and director. But this is also another star turn for Jonathan Majors, who brings so many layers to Damian in such a simple way that it really works beautifully.

Creed III continues the series’ focus on family

Tessa Thompson and Michael B. Jordan sitting in Creed III
(Eli Ade/MGM)

One of the biggest things in all the Creed movies is the concept of family and being there for them. From the first movie on, we’ve followed Adonis and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) in their love story, and seeing them grow as parents in Creed III is incredible. By the time we catch up with Bianca in Creed III, she’s not performing as a musician, but she is producing, and we get to explore how she handles her own failed dreams and how her life has panned out.

But there is really a struggle between Adonis and his mother, Mary Anne. In between the movies, Mary Anne got sick, and clearly Adonis and Bianca worry about her, but there is tension in their relationship because of Damian’s return that is beautifully executed throughout the movie and will leave you with tears in your eyes.

(featured image: Eli Ade/MGM)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.