There’s a great new character in “Creed III.” Unfortunately, his last name isn’t Creed.
He’s Damian Anderson, an ex-con who just happens to be a childhood friend of the acclaimed boxer. Eager for a taste of the good life, Anderson (Jonathan Majors) calls on his friend, gets a little mentorship and, suddenly, becomes a rival.
It’s an interesting dynamic but one that lacks a key ingredient – Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Rocky, in fact, isn’t even a fond memory in this outing. If you hadn’t seen the first two films, you wouldn’t make the connection.
Here, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, who also directs) is too attached to the good life. He still boxes, but he’s got a taste of unfinished business.
Donny (as he’s known to family and friends) is now a devoted dad who dotes on his mother and appears to have several lucrative endorsement deals. (We know because he drives by a big Ralph Lauren billboard that features the model-ready Creed.)
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When action moves to the ring, there are all the cinematic techniques – the slow motion punches, the bloody cuts and the floor-hugging moments of tension. But “Creed III” doesn’t come close to its predecessors when the big fight takes place. The action seems familiar.
Jordan, too, doesn’t get to grow much in this outing. He’s just the conduit to give Majors a great showcase.
Majors doesn’t waste it. He embodies that hunger for success and doesn’t let a little friendship stand in the way.
When Damian talks about his past and what fuels his anger, we buy in and want to see him get a piece of the good life Creed enjoys. Pitting them against each other is a great idea that could have been played out in a much better way.
When we see who wins the big heavyweight championship, we know this franchise isn’t over.
Rocky, after all, filled six films and got a second wind with the original “Creed.” Now, a new book has begun and Majors is just the actor to bring it to life.