CREED III Review: Packs Some Punch, But It’s No Knock Out

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Creed III review says if you’re looking for decent boxing scenes, engaging characters and familiar images, this is the film for you. But if you care about believability, forfeit.

Creed III reviewDo you remember all the details and relationships from Creed II, which was released almost five years ago? No? Don’t feel bad‚ neither did I. And because Creed III only made belated and frugal efforts to remind us, you may find yourself spending a good portion of the movie trying to figure out who’s doing what to whom, where and why.

It would have been so easy and generous to fill us in, rather than to assume that we have the last Creed film memorized, or have the time and desire to rewatch Creed II shortly before we go to see its predecessor. But that courtesy is not extended to viewers, and it gets more than a little frustrating.

Creed III starts out with everything we love about the franchise: a tender moment between Donny Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and his absolutely adorable, hearing impaired daughter (Mila Davis-Kent). There’s also  a knock down, drag out boxing match which will be Donny’s last before retirement. So far, so good.

But when Donny’s former childhood friend Dame (Jonathan Majors) is introduced, the plot starts spinning off into crazy town, and never quite returns. It’s certainly not the fault of super star du jour Majors — his performance is so compelling he almost overwhelms Jordan.

But the events that lead up to the ultimate showdown are so rushed and ridiculously paced that they stretch the believability of even the most dedicated fans. How does a guy who’s been in prison for 18 years find himself in a world championship boxing match seemingly within a few weeks of being released? How does he develop a sycophantic entourage in a matter of hours?

It gets worse. Even though the film tries to explain it all, the timeline is too rushed to be believable, and many of the plot points don’t even attempt to be tethered to reality.

I’m blaming most of the movie’s flaws on screenwriters Keenan Coogler, brother of Ryan Coogler (director of the Black Panther movies and Fruitvale Station), and Zach Baylin. Baylin also wrote King Richard, so he should know better. But Keenan Coogler’s only other major screenwriting credit is the abysmal Space Jam: A New Legacy, so perhaps my expectations are too high.

But Jordan, in his directorial debut, can also be held responsible for a number of the film’s trials, as well as its triumphs. While he unapologetically embraces a great number of cinematic cliches, he also stages bone shattering, edge of your seat boxing matches, which is not an easy thing to do when the audience knows full well who’s going to win most of the the time.

In essence, Creed III is a real Rocky choir pleaser, but those of us who casually sit in the congregation will not be overly impressed.

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 56 Minutes

If this Creed III review has you rushing out to buy tickets for the match, find times and availability at

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Creed III review says if you’re looking for decent boxing scenes, engaging characters and familiar images, this is the film for you. But if you care about believability, forfeit.





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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and seen on Rotten Tomatoes. She recently founded the new lifestyle website, where celebrities and experts share their 5 favorite things in the fields of entertainment, lifestyle, wellness, home and food & drink.

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