Creed III

Creed III throws all of the punches but only lands a few, never delivering the knockout that it had in mind.
Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors
Michael B. Jordan
Drama, Sport
Release date
March 3, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Rating Summary
It offers some creative camerawork and perfectly adequate performances. However, with a vague and underdeveloped central conflict, Michael B. Jordan's directorial debut, Creed III, is mostly boring and adds nothing to the Rocky saga.

In Creed III, Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) has retired from boxing as one of the greatest pugilists to ever step into the squared circle, and just as he’s settling into his new lifestyle, a ghost from his past arrives to challenge the very foundations of who Creed thinks that he is.

Creed III

Creed III tries very hard to deliver emotional body blows throughout but lands none of them. Instead, the story slowly meanders from one attempt to another with no thought of furthering the narrative. Rather, each set piece is a standalone effort to evoke an emotional response from the audience. In one scene, Creed experiences a deep personal loss and, while it’s sad and well-shot and acted, it has nothing to do with the story. He gains and learns nothing from the loss. It’s just a sad moment. In another, he goes to the grave of his father…and that’s pretty much it. He gains and learns nothing from the visit. It’s just a sad moment. Are you seeing a pattern?

If the movie has an overarching theme, it’s that you should try to forgive yourself for old wrongs and move on. This, of course, is B.S. if you’ve actually wronged someone and did little to nothing to make up for it, which is exactly what Creed did. It’s not until the very end that he even apologizes for it. Nonetheless, throughout the entire movie, someone, be it his wife or his mother, is telling Adonis that he’s a good person and he should accept that and move on. Unfortunately, the audience is never shown that he’s a particularly good person. In fact, there’s a scene in which a fighter that Creed has sponsored is severely hurt by another fighter in a match that Creed orchestrated. The scene is played out as though it’s Creed’s fault that the boxer was injured (it’s not) and Creed seems to feel responsible (he’s not) but when the injured boxer is sent to the hospital, it’s the last we hear of him. Creed doesn’t try to visit him, or his mother. He doesn’t even send flowers. It’s a perfect opportunity to show that Creed has the ability to feel something for someone other than Creed and to set up the rest of the movie’s emotional through-line to be that of Creed fighting for someone other than himself. Instead, the movie blows it and Creed is, once again fighting for his own aggrandizement.

None of this resonates. Sure, in the first Rocky, The Italian Stallion was fighting for himself, but he was the underdog who’d been beaten down by life. Then, when he was given an unbelievable opportunity to forever change the trajectory of his life, he grasped it with both hands and worked his @$$ off to be the best that he could be and overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds before him. The first Creed movie was much the same. That’s a universal theme that everyone can get on board with. However, in Creed III, Adonis is already at the top. He’s achieved everything he’d ever wanted to achieve. He’s the world heavyweight champion, considered to be one of the best of all time. He’s wealthy beyond imagining. He has a wonderful, supportive, and loving family. He’s mentoring the next generation of boxers. He hasn’t even become some elitist a-hole who has to find himself. No, everything is perfect in Adonis Creed’s life, so when he fights for himself against a man whom he wronged and shows no remorse for having done so, it rings hollow.

There are also some strange casting choices. By the time of Creed II, Michael B. Jordan had thickened up enough that his character had to be upgraded to a heavyweight. That means that he was a minimum of 201 lbs. In Creed III, the main antagonist is played by a ripped Jonathan Majors (Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania) who weighs at least 215 lbs., and at one point he has a heavyweight fight against an actor who is a 160 welterweight boxer in real life. Even when he’s not standing toe to toe with Majors, he looks scrawny, and it’s jarring. Why they wouldn’t have cast someone who looked more the part is a real mystery.

Since we’re talking about performances, let’s talk about Michael B. Jordan. In Creed III, Jordan plays the same character he’s been playing since 2012’s Chronicle. Don’t get me wrong, he does it well, and sometimes he’s an angrier version of him (Killmonger), but it’s still the same smooth and cocky guy.

Then there’s the block of wood that everyone knows as Tessa Thompson (Thor: Love and Thunder). She’s not given enough to do in this film to be distracting, but I’ll never know how the single expression that she’s capable of making keeps getting cast in movies.

Finally, there is Jonathan Majors, who plays “Diamond” Dave Anderson. This is the second movie that I’ve seen with him, the first being the aforementioned Ant-Man sequel. This is also, the second time that I’ve seen him completely wasted. He has a wonderful intensity about him and is completely invested in Anderson. Unfortunately, he’s not given much of anything to work with.

When it’s all said and done, Creed III is a stylishly filmed movie that had me checking my watch multiple times throughout its viewing. If you’re hoping for a fight movie, this is not it, as there are few fights and they are very very far between. If you’re hoping for a Rocky movie, you’re going to be disappointed, since Rocky is never once mentioned. There’s not even a photograph of him anywhere. If you’re hoping for two hours of escapism, you won’t find it here.


  • There’s a scene in which a classmate of Adonis’s 9-year-old daughter bullies her and Creed’s daughter gives her the old one-two. This is followed by both parents discussing it and coming to the conclusion that “violence is never the answer.” They then proceed to take their 9-year-old to not one, but two professional boxing matches. In one, a man is brutalized to the point of needing to be sent to the ER. In the next, she watches her father fight. In both cases, she is close enough to the ring that, were she not deaf, she’d be able to hear the fighters’ sweat hit the mat. Furthermore, the movie clearly makes the case that violence is sometimes the answer. After all, it’s how the film’s resolution comes about.
    • The only conclusion that I can reasonably come to is that some snowflake producer mandated that the ridiculous concept be given lip service. It’s in a random scene that had no build up and nothing came of it. It was almost literally someone standing on a soapbox scolding the audience.
  • The film’s entire theme is that of self-forgiveness through inaction. No one has the power to forgive themselves for things that they’ve done to others. People can ask for forgiveness, and if you’re a Christian, Jesus will grant you forgiveness if you truly and sincerely ask for it. However, in most of the major world faiths and virtually every culture, atonement is a key player in the granting of forgiveness. Even in Christianity, in which someone needs only ask for it to have it granted, atonement is considered a key tool in allowing one to move on with oneself. Creed III espouses that just moving on is a virtue unto itself, and only after you’ve fed your vanity can you then atone.
    • There are very few concepts in modern culture that are more subtle, seductive, and pernicious than this. Since it is the movie’s entire premise, I dinged it pretty hard for wokeness. After all, it’s the reason that the movie fails to connect.

James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

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