[Screen It]


(2023) (Michael B. Jordon, Jonathan Majors) (PG-13)

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Drama: A retired boxer must contend with a recently paroled childhood friend wanting his shot at becoming a champion in the sport.

Having won his last bout, boxing champion Adonis Creed (MICHAEL B. JORDAN) has officially retired, although he remains in the sport by promoting the current champion, Felix Chavez (JOSE BENAVIDEZ). Otherwise, he now focuses on supporting his recording artist turned music producer wife, Bianca (TESSA THOMPSON), raising their hearing-impaired daughter, Amara (MILA DAVIS-KENT), and hoping to convince his mother, Mary-Anne (PHYLICIA RASHAD), to move out of her longtime house.

Things take an unexpected turn when Adonis' childhood friend, Damian Anderson (JONATHAN MAJORS), shows up, having just gotten out of prison after an 18-year stint. Once an up-and-coming boxer, he wants one last shot at regaining that glory and would like Adonis to help make that happen. When circumstances provide that opportunity, Adonis makes the necessary arrangements but must then contend with the unexpected repercussions.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10

I've reviewed so many films over the past quarter-century-plus that I've forgotten untold numbers of them. That's especially true as the cumulative amount keeps increasing and all of that information keeps piling up higher and higher in my noggin, particularly regarding those that fall into the area enveloping either side of middling mediocrity.

Case in point, so it would seem, was "Creed II," the 2018 sequel to, natch, "Creed" that did manage to put a fresh spin on the well-worn boxing subgenre of sports dramas. While sitting down and waiting for our press screening of "Creed III" to begin, I realized I couldn't remember a thing about its immediate predecessor. Thus, I needed to reread my now 5-year-old review that, you guessed it, noted its middle-range quality and thus, I guess, its forgettable nature, at least to me.

Only time will tell how well this third installment ends up in the old and increasingly suspect memory banks, but for those looking for more of the same old, same old this offering lands the requisite punches. With Michael B. Jordan now pulling triple duty, not only as the headliner star portraying the title character but also as producer and director, the film -- penned by Keenan Coogler & Zach Baylin -- naturally picks up several years after the concluding events of the last film.

Having fought his last bout, Adonis now hangs up the boxing gloves to support his recording artist turned producer wife, Bianca (Tess Thompson), while helping raise their hearing-impaired daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) and hoping to convince his mother, Mary-Anne (Phylicia Rashad), to move out of her long-time home and thus maybe avoid another stroke.

He also serves as a mentor/manager to the heavyweight champion of the world, Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez), who's preparing for his next bout. But then a complication arises with the arrival of Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors, suddenly the go-to actor in Hollywood). He grew up with Adonis years ago when both lived in a group home and ended up going to prison after trying to protect -- at gunpoint -- his buddy from getting beat up. All of which meant his budding and promising boxing career never materialized.

Now out of the joint, he wants a shot again and in a somewhat contrived plot development gets just that, thus putting Adonis in an awkward "who do I root for" position while still harboring guilt over what happened all those years ago. There's a mild twist or two that pop up, but otherwise this is about as predictable as they come.

Despite that, and apparently like before, it's done decently enough that you don't mind going along for the all-too-familiar ride once again in and out of the ring. The performances are good, and Jordan seems more than comfortable and capable enough behind the camera that once the years take a toll on his chiseled good looks, he'll certainly have no problem continuing in the industry.

That said, the only moment that roused the old goosebumps was near the end when the familiar (but modified) strains of Bill Conti's original score from around half a century ago briefly played. All of which means that "Creed III," like its immediate predecessor, might not have the stamina to go the years-long distance in viewers' minds, or at least this one. The film rates as a 5.5 out of 10.

Posted March 3, 2023

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