Running Time: 116 minutes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
Directed By: David O. Russell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Taking place in the 1990’s this is the story of real life boxer Mickey Ward as he tries to juggle his personal life and his boxing career.
When I saw Mark Wahlberg was starring in a boxing movie I hoped he wasn’t going to fight a tree in the title bout. I also hoped he wouldn’t have to fight Seamus at some point. Based on a true story The Fighter is the story of boxer Micky Ward. He is a fledgling boxer who has lost his last few fights. He has one more shot at glory but there is a problem. His manager mother and drug addicted brother/trainer never seem to have his best interests at heart.
I am always super critical of sports movies as the actual sports being played in it are usually substandard and unrealistic. That coupled with fact it gets super repetitive and that usually detracts from the bigger picture. The Fighter easily gets past that and works even though there is very little boxing involved. It really is a movie with boxing as opposed to a boxing movie. The film starts off and we are introduced to Micky and his crack addled brother Dicky. This is a winding tale about the love of family, the hardships of boxing as a career, and the power of belief even when you are a severe underdog. The story of Micky as a blue collar worker and as a boxer is quite compelling as the movie rolls along. Will he decide to trust in his family and quit boxing altogether? or go with a whole different route entirely? It is a journey you will want to see to the end. Boxing is Micky’s passion but it is tearing his family apart and it ultimately could kill him as he is getting some suspect advice from many levels.
The acting is truly what makes this film as good as it is. Mark Wahlberg while not always on point is never the less a charismatic lead who has the look of a boxer. His older half brother Dicky played by Christian Bale is incredible as a drug addicted former fighter. He is hard to look at as Bale has lost a lot of weight for authenticity. His twitchy and hyper active demeanor really captured the character and his winning of the best supporting actor trophy was a foregone conclusion. Wahlberg and Bale have instant chemistry letting you fully buy into their relationship as it peaks and valleys. Their mom played by Melissa Leo won the best supporting actress award for this role and while she is solid as their domineering mom I felt Amy Adams deserved the award more. Adams plays Micky’s girlfriend Charlene and her raw and gritty performance is such a transformation you won’t believe it is her. I am not usually a fan of Adams but she brought her A game in this. The rest of the cast is nothing short of solid and realistic only adding to the power of this story.
The boxing that takes place in this is pretty good and they add a special filter to the camera to make it look like old footage from the 90’s. It is a shame that we don’t see more fights taking place in the ring but it really is incidental to the story. As the story rolls along you are taken for a wild ride of Dicky’s constant struggle between the love of drugs and the love of boxing. You see Micky torn between his meddling family and his strong willed girlfriend. You also get taken for a ride in the ring as Micky tries for one last bout for glory. As the film comes to an end you will have laughed a little, smiled a lot, and maybe even shed the odd tear. Fighting might be what Micky does best in the ring but his struggle to survive life is the hardest fight he will face. Will Dicky die from drugs? Will Micky have success in the ring? Will his family be torn apart? All great questions that you should watch to find out.
Director David O. Russell takes a great script and just delivers a great sports movie. It has power inside and outside the ring. The casting is perfect and the rough and tumble characters are super easy to follow. While it does have slow parts it never lasts for long as it always seems that Micky needs to solve some interesting personal issue. The film will punch its way into your heart and that is without much time in the ring. A solid finished product put forth by Mr. Russell.
I give this movie a recommendation especially to people who like underdog stories.
T Factor + If you like Wahlberg as an actor than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like lots of sport shots in your movies than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man.