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Movie Reviews

The Fighter



Released: 7th December 2010

Director: David O. Russell

Stars: Mark Whalberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams

Certificate: 15

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

Sport is a common theme amongst movies, from Baseball (Field Of Dreams) to Rugby (Invictus). Boxing is no exception. Several biopics including ‘Ali’ starring Will Smith and ‘The Hurricane’ starring Denzel Washington have enjoyed relative success and Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rocky’ series has spawned 6 films. The Fighter, therefore, had to make its mark and do something that the others couldn’t.

The main issue is the specificity of the previous films. Rocky focused on the rise to the top and thus the acting leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand The Hurricane follows the suspicious circumstances around the conviction of black boxer Rueben Carter and while the acting is superb, fans of the sport will be disappointed with the lack of action. The fine balance

between making a watchable film with a subtext that can be enjoyed by men and women of all ages, rather than cater to a specific audience, is one that has rarely been reached. The real masterpiece of the genre was the Scorsese/De Niro classic ‘Raging Bull’. The Fighter therefore had a lot of expectation resting on Mark Wahlbergs impressively broad shoulders and Christian Bale’s frighteningly skinny ones.

The Fighter follows the story of struggling boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) who has long been overshadowed by his older brother and now trainer, Dicky (Christian Bale). Dicky, once a local legend in their hometown of Lowell, has fallen victim to a violent drug addiction and has his own demons to battle.

The story itself has been done numerous times. A bond in blood that becomes an obstacle in the pursuit of success wouldn’t have stood out had it not been for the fantastic acting of numerous cast members. Mark Wahlberg looks the part and plays it fantastically-emotional and believable his character Micky is stuck between his love for his family, his girlfriend and his sport. His determination to never give up is inspiring while at the same time difficult to watch as he is clearly confused as to which future to follow.Melissa Yeo is mesmerizing as the boys mother,name here, who cannot let go of her son Dicky’s fifteen minutes of fame. Amy Adams gives a fantastic performance as Mickys girlfriend, name here, who is determined to put him on the path to success but at the expense of his brother.

While all off those mentioned above were brilliant- it is Christians Bales performance as Dicky that deserves so much credit. The dedication he shows in losing wait for the role is backed up by his performances as the drug addicted ex-fighter so blind to his own situation that he believes cameras filming his drug addicted ways are actually filming his ‘comeback’ fight. He gives everything to the role and in doing so overshadows his fellow cast member’s performances.

The cinematography is beautiful, clever camera work during the fight scenes provide a unique take on the action. The small town of Lowell provides the perfect backdrop to the story and the townspeople show real pride in having Dicky as the ‘hero of Lowell’ when it is really Micky who deserves the accolade. Even the stereotypical training montage is given a fantastic new look, showing Micky training to the sound of The Red Hot Chili Peppers-Strip My Mind creates, in my opinion, the film’s best scene and certainly matches the famous Rocky montage of Sylvester Stallone running up the Spanish steps.

The story of rising to success is not original, but the way in which The Fighter focuses on the family aspect adds the extra dimension that the previously mentioned films have lacked. This is what changes the viewers from the misconception that the film is purely about boxing- it is much more than that. It’s about overcoming obstacles no matter what they are. Micky’s aim to unite his family and girlfriend in his corner is inspirational and emotional- the shame that comes with defeat is outweighed by the pride of victory.

The Fighter is brilliantly written and thanks to the directing of David O’Russell and the fantastic acting it deserves all the acclaim it has been given. Do not be put off by the title as it is much more than a film about boxing. It is about family, friendship and the determination to succeed and these aspects are what make The Fighter an absolutely must-see movie.

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