Review: The Fighter

A fairly traditional boxing story with few surprises but the great acting and strong characters really connects with the audience.

Based on the true story of “Irish” Micky Ward, focusing on his fight against his family’s downward spiral and his rise to take part in some of the most entertaining, Cinderella fights in boxing history. (check them out on YouTube…amazing)

THE SETUP:
Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) has heart, but unfortunately with a losing fight record, that’s all he’s got. Ward has a few other challenges too:  a mob of sisters, a “could have been” boxing trainer/brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale), and a mom (Melissa Leo), who seems more interested in helping her son Dicky make a comeback (did I mention he’s a crackhead?) than support her younger son’s talent.  Thanks to his new girlfriend (Amy Adams) and trainers that believe in him, he might have a shot. This is based on a true story.

THE THOUGHTS:
“Irish” has heart and so does this movie, which saves it from being the usual cliché. (Come on. I don’t share spoilers but it is a boxing movie. What do you expect to happen?)

The boxing scenes are fantastic. Not only did Wahlberg look the part, the tone of the underdog was perfect. I actually thought they hired the same commentators to jazz up the play-by-play but they actually used the exact same announcements. You’ll have to see the movie to know how amazing that is.

Gripping performances is what made this movie…and I’m going to give most of the credit to Melissa Leo as the mom and Christian Bale as the crackhead brother. Both intense. Both terrible influences on Ward, but you could understand where they were coming from.

This is all based on a true story, which adds a dramatic layer to the film. Those fights did happen like that. There was an HBO film on Dicky Eckland. It all adds to a great story of a fighter overcoming difficult challenges for a second chance. Even if those challenges are those he loves the most.

THE FIGHTER Rating:
3 stars – good movie, take a friend. It may win a few Golden Globes but I don’t see any Oscars in the future for The Fighter…still, a damn fine entertaining film.

Random Recommendations
Frozen River (2008) – Sometimes, life sucks. Sometimes, you have to ferry illegals across a frozen river to make ends meet. I may not know anyone this has happened to but I’m sure it could be as gripping, intense and scary as this film. Melissa Leo does an amazing job, dealing with an impossible situation…getting an Oscar nomination in the process.

Empire of the Sun (1987) – Before he was yelling at staff and throwing temper tantrums, Christian Bale was kicking ass acting (still does) in Steven Spielberg’s look at World War II through the eyes of a child. Great battle scenes. Emotional movie. Come on, it’s Spielberg and you haven’t seen it. Fix that.

 Review: The Fighter
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