Creed III

A face-off with the past

You could be forgiven, after the tepid, Stallone-penned Creed II, if you walk into this one expecting more of the same. But you would be pleasantly surprised. The main reason is that Michael B. Jordan, in addition to putting in another spot-on performance in the title role, is now also doing the directing.

Adonis “Donnie” Creed has retired from the ring hugely rich and now runs a top training gym. Plus he’s married to a superstar singer/songwriter (Tessa Thompson) and has a lovely young daughter. He’s got it all. (But how cool can he be driving a friggin’ Rolls Royce SUV? One of many pointless product placements that mar the film.)

The villain appears in the form of Damien, a freshly paroled former childhood friend, a boxing prodigy back then who now, after 18 years in prison, tries to guilt Donnie into getting him a title shot. We are slowly let in on what makes Damien think Donnie owes him something. BTW, the role of Damien is played by Jonathan Majors, and he’s the best thing in the movie. I hope he can straighten out his recent girlfriend-abuse arrest and get back to acting.

Jordan’s directing is competent and promising, and never dull. It’s marred only slightly by his trying to go all Fellini during the final bout, but this is a common fault of first-time directors. Guy’s got a future. (116 min)