Now that he’s retired, Adonis is ready to train the next generation of fighters. This could’ve backfired since it’s basically the same premise as the dreaded “Rocky V.” But “Creed III” is surprisingly grounded, and frequently quiet and reflective. There are long stretches of silence, something the “Rocky” sequels would never stand for — they’d fill that silence with hit pop songs, damn it! Jordan, who is back as Creed, also steps behind the camera to direct here, and his direction is sturdy and solid. Jordan seems to relish the fight scenes most of all, as they enable him to get creative — using slow-motion to highlight body blows, and, in one of the most stunning moments in the movie, having a huge stadium full of people vanish so that only Creed and his opponent are standing, alone, in the ring.
That opponent is Damian “Dame” Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors. Majors is having a moment right now, and deservedly so. He’s become one of those “oh, he’s great in everything!” actors, and the same is true here. With his killer physique (seriously: how do you get so ripped?) and his raw intensity, Majors strikes an imposing figure, and every moment he’s on-screen here is electrifying. It helps that Dame is such a complicated antagonist (it would be wrong to call him a “villain”).
Adonis is living the retired life, promoting fighters and spending time with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson, given more to do here than in the previous movie) and daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). And then Dame shows up. Dame and Adonis were best friends when they were kids, but a series of events lead to Dame being sent to jail for 18 years. Now, he’s out, and he wants to connect with his old friend. But he wants more than that: Dame used to box before he was sent to prison, and now he wants a title shot.