December 23, 2010
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The boxing movie subgenre is one that is all about hope, perseverance, and commitment. The best ones, like Rocky and Million Dollar Baby, are about overcoming odds and having something to prove. The Fighter is no different. Here, we see the underdog rise and overcome countless obstacles.
The Fighter stars Mark Wahlberg as Mickey Ward, a small town boxer following in the footsteps of his older brother Dicky. His brother’s one claim to fame is a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard decades ago. Now he is addicted to crack, which constantly strains his relationship with Mickey. Mickey, stuck in a losing streak, is offered an opportunity to redeem himself. The choice he must make is whether his brother and overbearing mother/manager are causing more harm than good. The majority of the movie is Mickey overcoming one obstacle after another, finding hope and solace in his girlfriend (played by Amy Adams).
The film, a strong film on its own, is really a showcase of the actors. From Melissa Leo’s portrayal of Mickey’s mother, to Christian Bale’s most demanding role since The Machinist, the cast make the movie. David O. Russell seems to know this and lets the actors go. Fortunately, the script is sharp and rich. And setting the movie in the late 80s/early 90s gives the film a nice nostalgic vibe. The choreography of the fight scenes are realistic and filled with tension. I found myself recoiling a few times from some of the blows.
The final half hour really pulls at the heartstrings. You fall in love with these characters and you root for Mickey every step of the way. I really hope Wahlberg, Bale, and Adams each get a nomination come Oscar time. The script and direction, hell, everything about this movie is well executed. Definitely an uplifting and amazing story; the greatest boxing film since Rocky (in my opinion). 4.5 out of 5 stars