After starring in the first two Creed movies, Michael B. Jordan has doubled his workload by acting in and directing the third instalment.
In the years since 2018's Creed II, Adonis 'Donnie' Creed (Jordan)'s career and personal life have been thriving. He has retired from boxing and is running a boxing gym and fight promotion business with his trainer, Little Duke (Wood Harris), plus he and his now-wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) live in a plush Los Angeles mansion with their adorable daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent).
Enter Damian 'Dame' Anderson (Jonathan Majors). The former boxing prodigy pays his old childhood friend a visit once he gets out of prison and clearly has an axe to grind; Creed is living the life he envisioned for himself. Naturally, the score has to be settled - in the ring.
Following in the footsteps of Ryan Coogler and Steve Caple Jr., Jordan has directed another solid entry into the Creed - and Rocky - franchise. There's a good balance between action and family drama and the fights are exciting and cleanly executed.
Jordan puts his own style on the bouts by using slow-motion camerawork to capture the impact of a punch on a body, with the slo-mo footage showing the skin rippling as it absorbs the blow.
Despite being busy behind the camera, Jordan still manages to deliver the goods in front of it too. He is in peak physical shape, nails the fight choreography, and also shows an emotional side to Donnie, who struggles to communicate his feelings and let Bianca in on his troubled childhood.
However, the story is rather predictable. You know Donnie and Dame are going to fight because it's been plastered all over the posters. The beats of the narrative can be easily mapped out and this takes the tension out of the earlier fights. The final face-off is good and has a greater sense of stakes though.
Sylvester Stallone, who appeared as Donnie's mentor Rocky in the previous two movies, is missed, but the rest of the cast make up for his absence. In particular, Thompson shines as famous singer/producer Bianca and Davis-Kent is a sassy star as their deaf daughter.
Between this and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Majors is having a big 2023 as a blockbuster villain. Dame is much subtler than Kang but he is just as unruly and unnerving.
Creed III doesn't reach the heights of Coogler's 2015 movie Creed but it's still a solid sports drama with top cast performances.
In cinemas from Friday 3rd March.