The Fighter is a film that is loosely based off of the true underdog story of Massachusetts born boxer Micky Ward. The film follows Ward as he goes through his career as a boxer. The film deals with little depth though it serves as a powerful underdog story. The film is entertaining as it is good. The film serves as a well done underdog story, and the writing just reaches out to you as does the compelling acting.
But let this be known Hollywood does have a tendency to “Hollywood-ize” true stories and make it so that they can sell more tickets to their films. Although like with the story behind Cinderella Man very few people know the exact truth behind it. My friend Andy being a boxing aficionado knew the plot of the film better than it seems the director and screenwriters did as he pointed out flaws in the story throughout the film
In a nut shell the plot is quite basic. According to Wikipedia: As a welterweight from the wrong side of the tracks, Irish-American Dicky Eklund is the pride of working class Lowell, Massachusetts. Living in his shadow is his half-brother and sparring partner Micky Ward. After fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, Eklund plunges into a nightmare of crack addiction, violence and prison. His family’s hopes are crushed in the wake of Dicky’s decline. Like a real life Rocky, Micky fights on his own terms and pulls his family out of despair with his meteoric rise in the ring. Freshly paroled Dicky finds redemption training his little brother, now known as “Irish” Micky Ward, for his Welterweight Championship bout with Shea Neary.
While it doesn’t make for the deepest plots it works for the film because it happened. Eklund’s drug struggle made for a captivating and at times humorous approach. While Micky’s devotion to his family but longing to make the choices himself adds to the film’s already well written story. What makes the film so compelling as I said is the true underdog nature of the character. Here we have a regular average guy who works a job that no one else would work normally struggling to make ends meet, of course he’s also a struggling professional boxer as well. He is rather family oriented mike most of the Irish in that area.
The writing for this film was rather well done. I felt that it was above the average expectation for it. I remember first seeing a trailer for it a few months ago and though oh gee here is a boxing movie watch this tank and be awful. With the low expectations getting higher thanks to stellar reviews I went in more of a curious nature. The scripting was or at least appeared to be rather good. I know that’s not the right thing to say but it was as it was.
This is a film that is dialogue heavy. Most films can use visuals and the acting alone to just convey the meanings that they want but this you need compelling language. Not just fuck and other swear words but you need actual compelling dialogue, something that makes you believe in the character. Near the end the speech given by Eklund to Ward was in most cases quite cheesey and lame but it fit for the moment.
According to my friend they got the character of Ward down pretty well. He is a nice caring individual who generally puts family first and it seems to me that they hit that right on the head exceptionally well. Eklund as we know is a drug user or was, who also was a former boxer. It appears that not only did they get that part right but it seems he was not a rather serious person when it came to almost any situation. It would thus seem that the rest of the characters that were important were hit on rather accurately as well if that is the case.
The acting is what made the movie. A lot of reviewers said Amy Adams and Christian Bale stole the show entirely but I’m not so sure how accurate that is. Mark Wahlberg is the lead and as an actor it’s nice to see someone evolve over time from the roles he’s done. Recently we saw him in a comedy that obviously he didn’t fit in, but this time he’s back in the drama role and it suits him. He won’t win best actor but he fit the part well. His Bastan accent was at least buyable to the extent that most people don’t believe it that Bale is from England.
Now that we covered the lead let’s talk about the love interest. Amy Adams is smoking hot. I don’t care who you are, if you wouldn’t tap that then you are not a man at all. She seems devoid of personality in the beginning when we first meet her, as if she isn’t interested in anything at all. She grows through the film and becomes sort of the voice of Ward’s when talking to the family. Although she really doesn’t grow much as a character she more or less just opens up and becomes more active. She didn’t steal the show as much as people said, while she was good just didn’t hold up candles to the other peformances.
Melissa Leo deserves some recognition in this film playing the selfish mother of the two boys. Her performance was one of the stand outs in this film. She portrayed the character as if she herself was the character. I know that seems quite hard to convey in a review but just note that she did do a damned good job.
The real star of the show though is Bale. Through the film hes comedic to even dark and brooding. I remember the multiple scenes in which he jumps out the window of a crack house got the theater house roaring in laughter. But then there was times when he would make you feel, such as when the documentary about his crack addiction was played in the prison house and he got defensive when they showed a shot of his kid crying. Bale went through a lot to land the role and get it right including a nice loss of weight to what appears to be a very scary skinny version of Bruce Wayne. I want to say right now that this man deserves every best supporting actor award there is this year, much like what I said with Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight.
The directing is the last thing I’ll touch on. The way it was done was well impressive but nothing phenomenal. I think the one thing that was well done was the shots during the matches. The way they filtered it in some sequences to make it look like it was on TV or ripped from a tape that taped it from the TV. It was impressive in that sense. Some of the shots were well done but nothing seemed rather out of place. I liked the work Russell did on directing but it pales compared to the work he did in his previous film.
Overall I give The Fighter a nice strong 8.5 out of a total of possible ten. This film excels in the terms of writing and acting. Has a strong solid story but it feels a bit weak in the terms of depth at times, granted it’s a true story turned film one generally would leave the theater with a profound feeling, this one just makes you feel good about someone else’s life.