Saturday, March 4, 2023

Review: "CREED III" Lets Loose with Fists of Fury

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 11 of 2023 (No. 1900) by Leroy Douresseaux

Creed III (2023)
Running time:  116 minutes (1 hour, 56 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for intense sports action, violence and some strong language
DIRECTOR:  Michael B. Jordan
WRITERS: Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin; from a story Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler, and Zach Baylin
PRODUCERS:  William Chartoff, Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Glickman, Elizabeth Raposo, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, and Irwin Winker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Kramer Morgenthau (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Jessica Baclesse and Tyler Nelson
COMPOSER:  Joseph Shirley


Starring:  Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad, Mila Davis-Kent, Jose Benavidez, Selenis Leyva, Florian Munteanu, Thaddeus James Mixson, Jr., Spence Moore II, Tony Bellew, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Yahya McClain, and Stephen A. Smith

Creed III is a 2023 boxing drama and sports movie directed by Michael B. Jordan.  It is the ninth entry in the Rocky film series, which began with the 1976 film, Rocky.  Creed III is also a sequel to 2018's Creed II.  In Creed III, Adonis Creed has retired on top of the boxing game, but a childhood friend who was once a boxing prodigy returns bringing trouble with him.

Creed III finds champion boxer, Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan), defending his unified heavyweight boxing championship of the world (including the WBC titles) against an old rival.  Then, he retires to the life of a boxing promoter and manager via Delphi Boxing Academy in Los Angeles with its owner, Tony “Little Duke” Evers (Wood Harris).  His wife, music producer Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson), has a thriving career, and they have a bright, inquisitive, and hearing-impaired daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent).  Life is good, but...

Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), the wife of Donnie's late father, Apollo Creed, adopted Donnie, and he must now deal with her failing health.  Also, Donnie has been teaching Amara to fight, and that causes a clash with Bianca after an incident at Amara's school.

The most shocking turn of events is the return of Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors).  Once upon a time, Dame was an 18-year-old, “Golden Gloves-winning,” boxing prodigy (Spence Moore II).  He was also 15-year-old Donnie's (Thaddeus James Mixson, Jr.) best friend.  However, a terrible incident separated them, and now, a reunion has become a dangerous face-off.

I did not think that I would enjoy Creed III as much as I enjoyed Creed (2015) and Creed II, but I did.  I will say, however, that Creed III is not quite as good as the earlier films.  The main reason is that the screenplay, written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin with contributions for producer Ryan Coogler, is full of fanciful nonsense that would not happen in the real world of boxing.  Much of what happens in the planning and managing of fights seems illogical.  Still, the film's fight scenes are quite intense and even crazy, especially the fighting between Donnie and Dame.

Creed III, however, does not run on logic; it runs on emotions and passions.  The film's themes revolve around time and loss, and, to a lesser extent, love and longing.  Time does not heal all wounds, and the loss of opportunity can be devastating – as the film sees it.  Under the guidance of first time director, Michael B. Jordan, who is obviously also the film's star, the characters are direct – sometimes stunningly so – to each other about their feelings.  So can there be healing?

In that mode of raw emotions, Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and Wood Harris give strong performances.  Phylicia Rashad offers a poignant painful turn as Mary Anne, and Mila Davis-Kent steals scenes as young Amara Creed.  Jonathan Majors, currently a blazing hot movie star, presents Dame Anderson as crazy, but not too crazy, and as bull-in-the-china-shop who hides two decades of hurt behind his destructiveness and brutality.

Creed III”s maelstrom of emotions and feelings fascinated and got me past the plot holes.  For all the bitterness, wall-pounding, regret, and hurt that this film presents, it is about making amends.  I am impressed by Michael B. Jordan's directorial debut, and I think that fans of the previous films will really enjoy Creed III.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Saturday, March 4, 2023

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