Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo
Directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings)
Rated R for language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality
Appropriate for ages 17+
On the outside, The Fighter looks like your typical boxing film. It tells the true story of “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) sand his against-the-odds journey to winning the light welterweight title in the mid-80s. But on the inside it is a drama based more on struggle and life in the streets as his once-famous boxing brother (Bale) trains him while his own life is spiraling away due to crack addiction and taking his whole family down with him.
It is very easy to see a trailer for a film like this and think to yourself that you’ve seen it all before. While the boxing parts of the film might prove you right, the story most definitely offers something new. Part of the reason this film succeeds is due to some of the absolute best performances of the year. Watching Wahlberg’s subdued but talented hero not achieving the greatness he is capable of because of his poisonous family environment, forces the audiences’ empathy to be thrust upon him. But then watching the family that truly loves him being left out his career for reasons they can’t help but take personally creates a tremendous feeling of heartache. Ward’s mother (Leo) is superb as the mother/former agent that must give up leading his career even though she desperately wants to be included in her son’s success. And Bale as the crack-addicted brother/trainer turns in perhaps his best performance yet that could very likely win him the Oscar. Amy Adams is also wonderful as the girlfriend that convinces him that the only thing getting in the way of winning the belt is the people working with him. Then there are the seven inseparable sisters that steal the show and round out what is easily the best acting ensemble of the year.
While the film was originally supposed to be directed by Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell took over in grand style and created a terrifically entertaining movie that far exceeds its genre. This engrossing sports movie has a lot to offer both discerning movie aficionados and the folks that just want to see a good action drama. A