‘The Fighter’ Review
It’s only fitting this year’s underdog film attempting to steal Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations tells the story of “Irish” Micky Ward, a boxer who overcame all odds to capture the WBU Welterweight Title 10 years ago. The Fighter has what it takes to win the gold thanks to knockout performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
Mark Wahlberg was always attracted to Micky’s story of struggles inside and outside the ring. The actor trained for years before the film’s production and it shows. Not only do you notice it in his physique, but Wahlberg worked hard to recreate Micky’s left hook and his mannerisms in the ring to make the film that much more believable.
After Brad Pitt and Matt Damon dropped out to play Micky’s half-brother and trainer Dicky Eklund due to scheduling conflicts, Wahlberg had to settle for Christian Bale (note: sarcasm) and he did not disappoint. Bale was phenomenal as the Ward’s crack-smoking brother who was the pride of Lowell, Massachusetts for going 12 rounds against boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. The actor dropped 30 pounds for the role and his performance should be recognized by everyone, including the Academy. His portrayal of the drug-induced half-brother who means well, but unintentionally hurts others is amusing and heartbreaking.
Darren Aranofsky was set to direct the film, but he later dropped out because the director opted to work on MGM’s Robocop remake (which was then put on hiatus) and Black Swan. Wahlberg and Bale went with director David O. Russell, who worked with Wahlberg on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. Russell’s direction along with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema does a great job of recreating Ward’s fights, which features HBO commentary from the the boxer’s fights. It’s obvious that the director put much emphasis on making each match as realistic as possible, but he never strays away from what makes the film so good: the emotion. The Fighter will make you chuckle and pull your heart strings with standout performances from the male leads as well as the actresses. Amy Adams really shines and showcases her acting chops as the bitchy love interest who motivates Micky to leave his family behind to better his career, which upsets Ward’s mom/manager (a rousing performance from Melissa Leo).
The Fighter is a worthy entry into sports fans “Top 5 Boxing Movies” lists. The story may be a predictable one, but it’s still a joy to watch. The Fighter may not go toe-to-toe with Raging Bull or Rocky, but it still packs one hell of a punch.Filed under: Movies