In true Stallone fashion, Michael B. Jordan has taken control Rocky franchise. He directed and starred Credo III, a sports drama following Adonis Creed after his retirement as heavyweight boxing champion. When his old friend Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) gets out of jail, the two reconnect, but the bad blood between them can only be resolved in the ring. That Trust series is no stranger to putting newcomers in the director’s chair. After Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr., Jordan was hired for double duty in an epic and thrilling boxing film.
The film finds itself in a tight spot. After concluding the story of Rocky Balboa in Credo II (along with an apparent feud between Stallone and the producers), the Italian Stallion saga has come to an end. So how do you create Rocky a movie without Rocky? You step into the life of Adonis “Donnie” Creed, the new face of the series, and banish him from the shadows of the iconic underdog and his father, Apollo. Credo III begins by studying Donnie’s teenage years, boxing with his best friend, Dame. He gets into a street fight as we enter the present, where Donnie wins a boxing match against an old foe.
As the new heavyweight champion, this film explores Donnie in a new place in his life. He is far from a newcomer looking to make his own legacy in the 2015 film. He is older, raising a young daughter named Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). The father-daughter relationship brings a new heart and soul which the film greatly benefits from, grounding our protagonist and bringing out a warm side to him. The film features Creed interacting with multiple people, showing how he switches codes once he starts talking to Dame.
Screenplay by Keenan Coogler (Space Jam: New Legacy) and Zach Baylin (King Richard) work on multiple levels. While the film could easily be criticized for being predictable, with most Rocky the movie follows the same formula, the dialogue is engaging because of how much goes on behind the scenes. Additionally, it is Donnie’s first time going up against an antagonist with whom he has a deep personal connection, even more so than Viktor Drago of Credo II. Their history allows for a very invested story in which Donnie is confronted by his past, clouding his judgment of what to do in the present.
Simultaneously acting and directing is no easy task, but Jordan knocked it out of the park, showing his skills both in front of and behind the camera. This is Majors’ second villainous role in a studio film less than a month after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He is a formidable screen presence, making you hate his character while simultaneously understanding where his emotions are coming from. Other than that, Tessa Thompson’s performance is understated but phenomenal as she underpins every scene she participates in.
Jordan brings a lot of anime influences to the fight, going for extreme close-ups and slow motion. Every Rocky movies need big boxing finals, and this movie delivers that in a way that’s not quite what you might expect. Instead, Jordan makes the final fight his own with a story where every punch hurts. When Credo III ticking boxes with training montages, family drama, and happy endings, it’s a formula that remains as inspiring as it was when Rocky Balboa took on Apollo Creed in 1976.
As explained in ComingSoon’s review policy, a score of 8 equals “Excellent”.