The Mercury News

`Creed III,' `Daisy Jones & the Six' are knockouts

Guy Ritchie's latest breezy spy thriller is worth a look, too

- By Randy Myers

Does Michael B. Jordan's first time in the director's seat produce a TKO? Is the much-hyped Amazon Prime series “Daisy Jones & the Six” worth the time-suck of 10 episodes?

And should I really go to the theater to see “RRR” since it's available on Netflix?

Answers below.

“CREED III” >> As a first-time director, Michael B. Jordan more than punches above weight with this rousing entry in the Adonis Creed boxing saga, delivering mightily on both the action and emotion fronts. While Jordan's ease behind the camera is evident throughout, there are stumbles, such as when he inserts a questionab­le visual metaphor and tosses it into the ring during a climactic fight sequence. The segue interrupts the flow of the action. But that overreach, coupled with one main character's too-abrupt personalit­y shift, are overpowere­d by “Creed III's” moving central theme about reckoning and then reconcilin­g with our past. It's beautifull­y laid forth in a poignant yet tough screenplay punched out by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin.

The writing duo ups Adonis' personal stakes — both in and out of the ring — presenting him with a questionab­le friend, Damian (Jonathan Majors), from his rough past. He's a tensed-up guy who wedges his way into the recently retired boxer's cushy Los Angeles existence in a swanky home with music producer wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and their precocious daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), who is deaf.

A game-changing event from Adonis and Damian's youth, and a perceived role that Adonis played in it, triggers a slow-burning volatility in Damian, fresh out of prison after serving an 18-year sentence. To make amends, Adonis offers to help his buddy achieve that dream of becoming a pro fighter. It's a long shot given Damian's age and backstory. And the good deed only leads to spilling copious amounts of bad blood and creates a clash over fighting techniques and motivation­s. It also presents these magnetic leads — Jordan and Majors — with something extra chewy to sink their acting teeth into.

And they tear it apart when they're both onscreen.

All of that makes “Creed III” a quality film that's better than the bulk of “Rocky” movies, but let's face it — the real test for what transforms a good boxing film into a great one is the bassthumpi­ng, pulse-pounding training montage sequence. It's gotta inspire. It's gotta have killer songs. And it's gotta make you want to hit the gym right after those end credits.

“Creed III” more than delivers in that department, displaying two incredible superhero bodies as they muscle and sweat their way through powerhouse workouts (even a plane gets involved). It's enough of a spectacle to make the mere mortals in the audiences gawk in disbelief and dump an extra heaping of protein into our shakes.

DETAILS >> ★*★*★* out of 4; in theaters Friday.

“DAISY JONES & THE SIX” >> If you've never read a gobbleit-all-down-in-a-weekend Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, you're missing out on something special. The next best thing would be watching this Amazon Prime series, based on her bestsellin­g 2019 novel. It offers a sweet taste of what makes her such a literary sensation.

The 10-episode series introduces us to the memorable and flawed members of a '70s rock band (inspired by Fleetwood Mac) and takes us through the group's inception, evolution and on to their self-implosion after an electrifyi­ng concert in Chicago. It all makes for a fascinatin­g, song-filled watch that actually reflects what it's like to be in a band.

Most of “Daisy Jones & the Six” focuses on a lovehate tug of war between its two main and very complicate­d singers, Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) and Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin). Theirs is not always a harmonious relationsh­ip and other members of the band weather their ordeals with fame, ego and drugs, along with Billy's photograph­er wife (Camila Morrone) and the group's workaholic producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright).

“Daisy Jones” features exceptiona­l performanc­es throughout, but there are a few standouts — a neverbeen-better Claflin, a mercurial Keough and an entrancing Morrone. It all makes for one of Amazon Prime's best series yet. But heed these words of advice: Episode 10 will wreck you when it drops that mic. DETAILS >> ★*★*★*/*; first three episodes come out Friday, with two or three new episodes released each Friday through March 24.


Guy Ritchie doesn't get a fair enough shake. His duplicitou­s spy thrillers often receive meh reviews but I can't resist them. They're true-blue guilty pleasures, comfort food that features a classy bunch of actors who get enough derring-do and backstabbi­ng to keep our interest. His latest lands onto that shelf, a dandy bit of breezy business that's as prepostero­us as it is fun.

When a secret but invaluable cargo gets stolen, a trio of contract spies (Ritchie regular Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza and Bugzy Malone) are summoned to get whatever it is back into the “right hands.” To do so they have to nuzzle up to a flashy, celebrityo­bsessed tech billionair­e (Hugh Grant, having a heyday), and perform the task by enlisting the aid of a vain but rather adorable scatterbra­ined actor (Josh Hartnett, again proving we need him in more comedic roles) he's a fan of.

Ritchie sprinkles in some “Mission: Impossible”-like close calls and enjoyable banter as this winning trifecta uncovers, naturally, a James Bond-like plot. It's cockamamie from beginning to end, but shows a real appreciati­on for wanting to entertain its audience. Mission accomplish­ed. DETAILS >> ★*★*★*; in theaters Friday.

“RRR” >> S.S. Rajamouli's thrill-a-minute genre mashup made my list of 2022's top 10 films, and rightfully so. The bonanza with a cast of what looks to be thousands and a storyline about getting back at colonizers is a blast throughout its 3-hour-plus running time. There's a bromance, a romance and even a few Bollywood dances. It explodes on the screen and was better and more consistent­ly exciting than “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water” or any recent Marvel movie. Really. “RRR” is returning to select theaters and it's a spectacle that should be experience­d on the big screen. DETAILS >> ★*★*★*★* ; in select theaters Friday.

“WRECK” >> It's awfully tempting to sum up this addictive, funny and scary Irish six-episode series as “Scream” set on a cruise liner. But that sells it short. With a batch of shady, exuberantl­y horny high school grads signing up to work on the MS Sacramentu­m while a serial killer wearing a yellow ducky disguise scrubs the decks of his latest victims, the plot and the execution make you want to sail right through all episodes.

Oscar Kennedy stars as the almost-out-of-thecloset Jamie, a 19-year-old worker who buys the identity off another staff member so he can snoop around and figure out what happened to his sis onboard. The suspects are many and the corpses start piling up.

Creator-writer Ryan J. Brown balances it all like a Cirque du Soleil performer, producing numerous shocks and laugh-out-loud lines of dialogue. Consider this exchange between a young member on the staff and a snotty passenger. Snotty passenger: “Do you have a problem young lady?” Staff person: “Yes. It's called minimum wage.” It's a real find.

DETAILS >> ★*★*★*/*; available now on Hulu.

 ?? METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER ?? Michael B. Jordan, left, and Jonathan Majors star as childhood chums who meet up again in the boxing ring in “Creed III.”
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER Michael B. Jordan, left, and Jonathan Majors star as childhood chums who meet up again in the boxing ring in “Creed III.”

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