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Review: ‘Creed 3’ is the best boxing movie since ‘Rocky’

Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

By Saswat Pati     3/21/23 10:19pm

Rating: ★★★★★

“Creed 3” is one of the best sports films ever made. The film not only establishes Jordan and Majors as bonafide superstars, it also heralds Jordan as the next great director. 

The film begins with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) fighting his final boxing match and retiring after a long and illustrious career. However, shortly after, his childhood friend Dame Anderson (Johnathan Majors) returns from prison after a run-in he and Creed had with the police. Although Anderson was imprisoned for 18 years, Creed was able to escape and establish himself as a world champion. Initially, the relationship between the two appears cordial, but soon Anderson wants to box for a shot at earning the heavyweight world championship.

While the story may be a bit traditional, its three-act structure excellently portrays the tension between the two leads, and its conclusion once Creed fights Anderson in a grueling 12-round boxing match at the end of the film is extremely satisfying. Anderson as a villain feels almost Shakespearean — from the beginning, his boxing ability is repeatedly emphasized while his resentment towards Creed is slowly revealed through the use of flashbacks. The audience gradually understands Anderson’s motivations and hatred for Adonis, who he believes stole the glory he intended to earn.

Through this arc, “Creed 3” touches on themes of regret, forgiveness and acceptance. Just as Anderson carries resentment for losses of his youth and boxing career, Creed also harbors a tremendous amount of guilt about escaping while Anderson went to prison. Much of the film is centered around Adonis’ healing process with both his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and daughter Amara. Amara, who is deaf, is brilliantly portrayed by Mila Davis-Kent, a deaf actress. Her interactions with her father are not only charming, but serve to motivate Creed as he overcomes his challenge with Anderson. By the end of the film, Creed can finally let go of his misplaced guilt and reconcile with Anderson.

In addition to its well-executed story, the directing throughout the film is immaculate. It’s hard to believe that Jordan has never directed a feature length before because the boxing sequences were masterfully choreographed and executed. Not only does each fight in the movie feel real, each fight sequence is creative and excellently executed. While two of the fights replicate the feel of real-world boxing matches, the final fight between Creed and Anderson isolates the two away from a crowd, and during this fight, one can really feel that it’s not just about winning a championship, it is about addressing their deep grudge. In particular, the sound mix intensifies with every punch and the visuals of each blow further add to this immersion.

“Creed 3” is not just a boxing movie, it is a story of tragedy and triumph. Through each fight, its epic training montages and the tender moments of sadness, this movie carries a lot of heart, and its story and message will certainly resonate with audiences well after the film ends. 

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