Movie Review: The Fighter (2010)

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Comedy
Tags: , ,

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“Irish” Mcky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a talented fighter from Lowell Massachusetts, but his time is running out, he’s almost thirty, and he’s still being trained by his brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) and managed by his mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) Dicky used to be a talented fighter himself, he even knocked out Sugar Ray Leonard, but Dicky’s life  has slid into oblivion because of his crack addiction.  He shows up late time and time again for sparring practice with Micky, and doesn’t seem to care about much, except where to score his next fix.  Micky meets Charlene (Amy Adams) who really seems to like Micky and wants to get him out from his mother and brother’s controlling ways.  After Micky’s mother arranges a fight for Micky that results in a serious beating, Charlene and George Ward, (Jack McGee) Mickey’s dad urge Micky to train with Mickey O’Keefe in Las Vegas full time.  After Micky breaks his hand breaking up a fight between Dicky and a cop, and Dicky ends up in jail, what does Micky do?  Does he go to Vegas and train with O’Keefe or stay loyal to his mother and brother, even though it might cost him his boxing career?

This is a very good movie.  It’s a true story, which makes it interesting, but it’s not really a boxing movie.  It’s a movie about family, more precisely, it’s about family dysfunction.  Micky’s brother is a crack addict and he’s unrepentant about it.  Alice is a control freak of a mother, who will literally fight anyone who takes on her Dicky or her daughters. On the other side of this epic family struggle is George Ward and Micky’s girlfriend Charlene, trying to pull him away from the vortex of destruction that is his mother and brother.  But then effortlessly the movie becomes about loyalty and redemption, and not the typical movie depiction of loyalty, but loyalty when loyalty is difficult, when loyalty may cost everything.  It’s a good thing that this is not a boxing movie, because the boxing scenes are atrociously laughable, I thought the boxing scenes in the Rocky were cartoonish, but this movie tops all of them for outlandishness.  But here’s why I love this movie, Christian Bale took the role of a “junkbag” like Dicky Eklund  and inhabited that role and made Dicky into an irresistible force, and a pretty likeable person, even with all his flaws.  That’s a tough role to play, and Bale owned it.  Melissa Leo has a similarly tough role, she’s controlling, and overprotective, but it’s not Micky she’s protecting.  Wahlberg does a requisite job as Micky, but I do appreciate that he produced this movie and brought these people to life.  Amy Adams tries hard to shake her good girl image, but maybe she tries too hard.  This, for the most part, is an outstanding movie, tough and gritty, a family’s dirty laundry out for everyone to see.  It’s not often in films that people are laid bare like this.

The Fighter:  A Knockout.

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