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Archive for the ‘Fighter; The’ Category

The Fighter – review

The Fighter – Viewed 12/17/10

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Before I even get in to this let me say one thing, Christian Bale will get nominated and win an Oscar for best supporting actor for this film.  He is one of only a handful of actors I know that physically transforms himself into a character, pouring every thing he has in to becoming that person. (You want evidence, stick around for the end credits when the real Dicky shows up)  You will forget you’re even watching Batman right from the get-go.

Ok, on to the review portion. Bale plays Irish Micky Ward’s crack addicted, former boxing great brother, Dicky.  Dicky once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, and it’s all he can ever talk about.  Dicky was a hell of a boxer back in the day too. It is an unbelievable performance, and he will be holding a very well deserved Oscar in a few months time.  Amy Adams will also most likely be nominated as Micky Ward’s tough bar-tending girlfriend, as will Melissa Leo as Alice, Micky’s mother.  Mark Wahlberg is good, but he’s kind of monotonous at times as the star of the ring, Irish Micky Ward. I’m not so sure Oscar will grace him with a nomination.  There are fantastic performances through and through in this true-story, character driven drama, however….great performances don’t always make a great film, and unfortunately we don’t have a great film here.  Entertaining yes, great…no.

The film begins with Dicky and Micky roaming the streets of Lowell, Massachusetts with camera crews from HBO filming a documentary about Dicky.  A crowd soon gathers as Dicky gets cheers as the hero of the small town screaming about his big comeback.  The problem is, he’s a hardcore junky, and maybe this documentary isn’t really about his boxing career any more, but more about his drug addiction and fucked up life.

Micky, his brother, is seen as a stepping stone in the boxing world, and he’s being pulled in all sorts of different directions.  His brother is his trainer, and his mother his manager.  Boxing to them is about family.  It’s a family business, but maybe family isn’t the smartest choice when it comes to advancing your career.  Micky soon begins getting courted by people with money who believe he has it in him to become something bigger.  Micky can’t leave his family in the dust though, especially his brother, the hero…his hero.

For those of you out there who love your boxing movies, you’re going to love this film.  I promise you  it’s got everything you want in an underdog, come from behind, tearjeaker.  The big problem is, that the majority of it isn’t anything new.   Believe me you’ve seen all of this before.  You’ve got a bunch of cliches piled in to the film, and David O. Russell doesn’t help matters with some sloppy and downright terrible filmmaking at times with scenes that just don’t even to seem to fit within the film.  His track record to me isn’t that impressive either. (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings)

At the core of the film you have two brothers, two fighters, and they are headed in opposite directions from each other, yet they are still bound together.  This push and pull between Bale and Wahlberg should have been the constant focus of the film, because that is what the story is really about.  It achieves that at times to near perfection.  The film attempts to cover to much material though and throws in their seven, mouthie southie sisters in an attempt to get laughs from the audience, along with other obnoxious and pointless character development.  It doesn’t work.  It’s almost laughable…not in a good way. Toss in some tug on your heart strings, ala Rocky, montage scenes (one of which involves a 2006 Red Hot Chili Peppers song that seems strangely out of place…the film takes place in the 90’s FYI) And you’ve got a recipe for pretty much every sports film ever made.  Scenes like this seem to creep up in the film constantly distracting us from that true core.  The film constantly loses steam, and tries so hard to recover…which it eventually does, and this is what saves it, and makes it worth seeing overall.  The climax of the film is shot well, builds well, and ends well.  I wish the journey we took to get there was done with such care and focus.

The performances here are top notch, Oscar caliber, in every single way.  There is no denying that.  The film suffers from a lack of control and direction and that is the difference between a good film, and a great film.

Grade: B-