Review – The Fighter

Every year Hollywood spends millions of dollars producing over the top blockbusters using state of the art special effects to blow our minds. Actors spend months developing characters and delivering performances that take audiences on a journey. Scriptwriters toil over scripts in the hopes that their story will engage and entertain audiences. Despite the entertainment juggernaut that is Hollywood, you can still go down to your local sports club, watch a game of football and be highly entertained. Sport is the greatest drama and it seems Hollywood still loves a good boxing film. ‘The Fighter’ is the true story of ‘Mickey Ward’ (Mark Wahlberg) a boxer from a poor background trying to go professional but his efforts keep getting hindered by his crack addict brother ‘Dickie’ (Christain Bale) and his mother/manager ‘Alice’ (Melissa Leo), but his life starts to turn around when he meets ‘Charlene’ (Amy Adams) and ‘Mickey’ is faced with a choice that will make or break his career as a boxer.

‘The Fighter’ on paper is a straight forward boxing film along the lines of ‘Rocky’ and ‘Cinderella Man’ with a touch of ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ What saves this film from being such a bore are the terrific performances, great soundtrack and a director that pulls no punches (come on, I had to slip in one boxing cliché). The performances in ‘The Fighter’ are excellent; Christan Bale steals the show as ‘Dickie’ a larger than life character with a serious drug addiction. Bale disappears into the character with a realistic portrayal of a crack addict who is full of life but due to his addiction is just a shell of a man. Christan Bale deserves all the awards he gets for this role and once again proves he is a talented actor who can go from mainstream blockbusters like ‘The Dark Knight’ to character driven films like ‘The Fighter’. Mark Wahlberg plays the underdog ‘Mickey’ with a real sincerity and simplicity, Amy Adams is good as the feisty loving girlfriend and Melissa Leo is her trashy best as the working class manager mother. Credit must also go to the rest of the supporting cast especially the women in the roles of ‘the sisters’. Due to the ‘trailer park trash’ nature of the family Mickey and Dickie have lots of sisters with nicknames like ‘beaver and ‘red dog’ who are brilliant in all their toothless glory. Director David O. Russell (Three Kings) does a fine job behind the camera keeping things pretty simple, he just lets the performances push the story forward and doesn’t go too over the top when filming some of the fighting scenes. The film also has a great soundtrack with healthy doses of Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones which really sets the tone of the film well without going down the ‘eye of the tiger’ path.

The major flaw of this film is that it’s too predictable and plays out like every other boxing film, sure it’s all about the journey not the destination, but I feel it’s a path well trodden and if it were not for the great performances this would have been a real snoozer. ‘The Fighter’ treads the fine line between being a great movie and the kind of film they use to motivate high school football teams before the big grand final. (For the record my old schoolboy rugby team was motivated using Rocky 4)

3/5

The Popcorn Junkie

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