Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Drama
Tags: , ,

southpaw

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on top of the world, he is light heavyweight champion of the world, he has a beautiful wife, named Maureen, (Rachel McAdams) and a little girl, Leila. (Oona Lawrence) After his wife dies in a bizarre accident, Billy’s perfect life starts to slip away.  In his sorrow, Jimmy starts to drink and take drugs.  A judge takes Leila away from Billy, and she is now under the Care of Child Protective Services Officer, Angela Rivera.  (Naomie Harris) Leila no longer wants to speak to Billy.

With nowhere else to go, Billy goes to work in former fighter Tick Willis’ (Forrest Whitaker) gym. Billy works hard, fixing lights and cleaning up the gym.  He convinces the judge to loosen his visitation rights with Leila, and gets Tick to train him. Billy’s former manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent) arranges a match between Billy and the new champ, Miguel Escobar. (Miguel Gomez) Has Billy received enough training from Tick to win this match, or have the struggles of losing his wife and daughter taken too much out of Billy?

Southpaw is such a contrived, clichéd boxing film that I’m surprised Jake Gyllenhaal would sign on to do it.  Take the boxer’s name for example, Billy Hope, and he’s a white boxer.  So he’s the Great White Hope, right?  A boxer has everything, loses everything and fights for redemption, sound familiar?  Right, it’s every boxing film ever made.  Even the final decision in the fight is contrived, a spilt decision.  Do I really have to tell you how this movie turns out?  This movie makes me admire Rocky 1 even more, Stallone made a really great movie about a down and out fighter that gets one shot to do something great.  Rocky is a fantastic movie.  Southpaw is a pale imitation of Rocky.

Jake Gyllenhaal does his best to gain street cred in this film, he gets in great shape, speaks in a phony blackcent, and slurs his words like any drunk or addict would do, but it’s just not convincing enough.  Even with a face full of fake cuts, I never lost myself in this character.  Rachel McAdams plays yet another empty headed, hopelessly devoted character, I felt nothing when she died.  Forrest Whitaker plays an ersatz Mickey from the Rocky films, teaching Billy to be a better fighter, but he’s not the loveable curmudgeon that Burgess Meredith was, it’s another copy of a great performance.  And poor Naomie Harris, she had a bright future after Skyfall and Mandela, reduced to playing a boring government social worker.  She does do a good American accent though.  Finally, what the hell is 50 Cent doing in this movie?  It isn’t acting, I don’t know what it is, besides a rapper playing himself in a movie.

The director, Antoine Fuqua, started out directing music videos for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton and Usher.  I liked Training Day, which he directed, but since then, he’s directed movies like Olympus has Fallen,  this movie and a remake of a classic The Magnificent Seven.  The boxing scenes in Southpaw looks very choreographed, one boxer moves in and lands a few punches, and then the other boxer moves in and lands a few punches, that’s not how real boxing is. The movie is long, the pacing is slow.  There’s nothing to recommend about Fuqua’s directing in this film.

Southpaw:  Left me unimpressed.

 

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