Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Mila Davis-Kent, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad
The third instalment for the boxer Adonis ‘Donnie’ Creed, and the ninth in the overarching ‘Rocky’ saga, draws cannily on horror and thriller elements to subvert the series’ outsider underdog formula.
A prologue set in 2002 charts how the teenage Donnie was involved in a violent incident outside a grocery store which had serious consequences for his accompanying childhood friend Damian.
Cut to present day where Donnie (Jordan who also directs) has just secured his championship again, and is now retiring form fighting to concentrate on promoting, training new fighters, and spending more time in his LA mansion with his wife, alt-soul performer and producer Bianca (Thompson) and their deaf daughter Amara (Davis-Kent), a chip off the old block whose enthusiasm for her dad’s profession may moot a way forward for the series.
Donnie’s happy life is disrupted with the arrival of old acquaintance Dame Anderson (Majors) who has just been released from prison after an eighteen-year sentence. When Donnie offers his old friend help, Dame, another ex-boxing prodigy who insists that he taught Creed all his moves, tells him he wants a crack at the title. Loyal trainer Little Duke (Harris) strongly cautions Donnie about returning to the ring.
The narrative is predictable and the picture occasionally veers into soapy sentimentally, particularly in the scenes with Creed’s mother Mary Ann (Rashad), but Jordan, in his directing debut, keeps the action moving along at a fair pace, while the (apparently anime-influenced) fight scenes are as inventive as they are brutal. Alas, Jordan does fluff the training montage sequence (the series’ money shot) a little with over-rapid cutting.
The increasingly essential Majors, fresh from his big screen debut as Marvel villain Kang the Conqueror, appropriately dominates proceedings as the hauntingly damaged, but manipulative and scarily feral Dame.
Creed III is released 3rd March
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