MOVIE REVIEW: THE FIGHTER
Director: David O. Russell
Screenplay: Paul Tamasy. Eric Johnson, Scott Silver
Mark Wahlberg as Mickey Ward
Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund
Melissa Leo as Alice Ward
Amy Adams as Charlene Fleming
Jack McGee as George Ward
TRT: 115 minutes (R) Language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality
Peacock Feathers (3 1/2 out of 5)
By: Marcus Thorpe
When you are dealing with a boxing movie, there is Rocky, Raging Bull, and then everything else. In each one of those great movies there is one central figure the entire film is built around, they are the focus of the film, strong actors, polarizing figures. In David O. Russell’s “The Fighter”, the central character takes a backseat, and just like in the movie “The Fighter” starts a bit sluggish, finds its way, and finishes with a satisfying flourish.
The Fighter takes the story of 2 brothers with very different personalities and styles, but one true love, the sweet science. Dicky is the older brother who made it big in boxing. He got in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard, even knocking him down as he stood toe to toe with the legend for 10 rounds. He was his small town Massachusetts hero, following in his footsteps, his younger brother Mickey. While maybe not as talented, Mickey earned his stripes in the ring as a bruiser. A boxer that would be willing to stand there, take punishment, and drop his opponent with one punch. While their styles in the ring were quite different, in paled in comparison to the rest of their lives. Mickey was the hard worker, the nose to the grindstone, no-nonsense dependable one. Dicky was the wild-card, more interested in getting high than walking the straight and narrow. As Dicky continues his downward spiral, he threatens to take his brother down with him. Dicky is Mickey’s trainer, and when Mickey is trying to get his career back, Dicky is still living in a fantasy world that more people are interested in seeing him succeed. His fantasies are flamed by the boys’ mother and sisters. They jump when Dicky says to; they turn the other way when he fails to show up for important things, like a trip to Vegas for Mickey’s fight, they ignore Dicky’s drug abuse issues, allowing him to fail again and again. All of the issues land Dicky in jail after his attempt to make cash fast through robbing guys, it throws Mickey’s life into the ringer as he gets busted up by police and could cost him everything including his new girlfriend Charlene. Throughout the family is battling with each other over what is best for these two boys, both in their personal lives and in their boxing and training careers.
The acting here is really, really good. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t get much to work with, his character is a man of little words, it seems of little education, but he does some pretty solid work with what he does have. He brings a shy side to a fighter, he shows time and time again that family means everything to him, and even when the temptation is to turn his back on that family, even when he should, he shows that he can’t. The real star of the show here is Christian Bale. This is one hell of an actor. He is all over the map with Dicky, he whips you around with his movements, his words, his emotions, he is the reason you can’t stop watching the film. There are solid performances from Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Jack McGee too. Adams plays Mickey’s girlfriend, a bartender who has a sharp tongue that can cut and hurt just as much as a left cross from Mickey. Leo plays the boys’ mother and manager Alice. She enables Dicky, fights for her son Mickey; she is terribly flawed, but has some huge scenes where she shows just how talented of an actress she really is.
I thought the direction was pretty solid. The boxing is the side-show in ‘The Fighter.“ David Russell decides to not take you too far down the rabbit hole when it comes to the boxing ring. There aren’t long fight scenes where the characters take shots for several minutes at a time. Instead Russell decides to put the focus squarely on the characters and the internal struggle of a family. He allows you to despise some of the backstabbing within the family structure, and allows you to share in the joy of the resurrection of one brother career, and the other brothers’ life.
The fighter is getting some serious looks when it comes to award season. I think there is something that needs to be pointed out when it comes to just how strong this film is. 2010 is shaping up to be a bit of a lightweight division for really strong movies, so when you stack “The Fighter” up against them, the belt might look a bit bigger than it is. The end is a bit predicable, the main character is not really one you can invest in, but the story and the strength of those actors in the corner makes “The Fighter” a heavyweight when it comes to serious consideration for OSCAR gold.
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So what did you think? Comment on my blog, or give the movie your grade below!Posted by on 12/17 at 02:31 PM
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