December 19, 2010
Review - " The Fighter " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Champion, Sugar Ray Leonard, and perhaps knocking him down (it is a source of contention throughout the film) Dicky has
fallen on hard times and on the speed needle. Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his half brother, is the struggling boxer who
spent his life living in his big brother’s shadow. The Fighter is inspired by the true story of these two brothers who came
together to train for a historic title bout that will unite their fractured family and redeem their pasts.
Dicky and Micky’s mother is played by Melissa
Leo in a good performance as a woman who
has all the best intentions but is too myopic to
see that her intentions are ruining her children.
Micky finds council and courage in a new
girlfriend, Charlene (Amy Adams) who
encourages Micky to split ties with his
destructive family in order to save himself.
As an underdog story, there are no surprises
here. As a boxing movie, it really didn't move
me. The only interesting touch brought to the
fight sequences was the decision to change the
film stock so that portions of the fights looked
like we were watching them through old
cathode ray tubes. No boxing is even really
done until a good way through the film.
However, once it is brought in and while it’s on
screen, the pace of the film does pick up, but
there was nothing new that I hadn't already
seen in Raging Bull, Rocky or Cinderella Man. Still there were times when all the pieces were clicking.
As much as the comparisons are warranted, The Fighter is not exactly Rocky. It’s not the story of a nobody who gets a title
shot. Micky is a hard-working boxer who trudges his way up the ranks. It’s got the inspirational element, which of course any
great sports movie must have, but what sets it apart from is the focus of that inspiration. The title may refer to one or both of
the brothers and in the case of Dicky could be a comment on either his former profession or his current state of existence.
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo
The movie staring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. The
film recounts the real-life experiences of boxer, Micky Ward and his
family en route to the pursuit of boxing greatness.
Unfamiliar with Ward’s boxing and family history, I cannot say how
accurately the film narrates this period of his life. However, the film is a
beautiful tale exemplifying the tensions that run through family, work, the
criminal justice system, the boxing industry, and the working-class
community of Lowell, Massachusetts in the early 1990s.
Based on the film’s trailers, one might expect a typical “underdog
overcomes the odds” sports flick, supplemented with a tangential love
interest and spattered family conflicts. While the sporting “underdog”
narrative definitely exists, boxing is used more as a medium through
which a deeper familial story is told.
Christian Bale gives a phenomenal performance. Playing Micky Ward’s
older brother, Dicky, Bale effectively illustrates how substance use turns
into a coping mechanism when one’s identity is wrapped up so heavily in
an erratic athletic career. Some of the scenes involving Dicky’s lifestyle
would be genuinely comic if they weren’t at the same time desperately
tragic and real.
Dicky Eklund was a former boxer that squandered his talents and threw
away his shot at greatness. Having gone the distance with the World
It has a great script, incredibly talented
actors playing extremely fascinating
characters, and a good director keeping
everything moving in the right direction.
On the other hand, the fight sequences
are boring and predictable, secondary
characters in the form of seven sisters are
thrown together in a hodgepodge.
Look for the nominations to keep racking
up for this film; and awards to come to
Bale and Leo for their performances.
It “couda been a contenda” for a great
film, but instead it will just have to settle
for being a very good film. Which isn't
necessarily a bad thing.