Cracked Bell Sports is primarily a Philly sports only blog. While that may be the case I recentlly saw the movie "The Fighter" and figured I would throw it up here because while its not about Philadelphia sports its a movie that is a sort of modern day Rocky. This review first appeared on Stale Cinema a blog all about the movie news and reviews. If your a big movie fan deffinitly head over to the site. Its great for all things going on in the world of movies. I now present my review for "The Fighter"
The Fighter is the true-life story of boxers Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). The Eklunds hail from the town of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Dicky is the self-proclaimed "Pride of Lowell". Dicky’s claim to fame took place during his boxing career when he knocked down Sugar Ray Robinson. However, since that fight, Dicky's life has taken a downward turn. While training his little brother Mickey, he is no more than a strung-out addict who can be best described as a has-been.
While Dicky trains Mickey, their mother Alice manages him. Alice (Melissa Leo) is in charge of getting the fights for Mickey and collecting the money. She is the head of a household that, at last count, was around nine kids, including seven girls. You learn quickly in the movie that Mickey is being mis-managed by his family, but he is too loyal to cut them loose, even though they are bringing him down. The one person who tries relentlessly to make Mickey realize what a bad influence Dicky and Alice are is Mickey’s girlfriend, Charlene, who is played by Amy Adams. Charlene is a no-nonsense bartender who says exactly what she feels and doesn’t care if she rubs people the wrong way, especially Mickey’s family. She is routinely fighting with Alice and the rest of Mickey’s sisters, who look at Charlene as an "MTV" girl who is filling Mickey’s mind full of garbage.
This movie is filled with award-winning performances, so I will begin with the most impressive. Christian Bale leads the movie in terms of his portrayal of a strung-out has-been. Bale, one of the best character actors there is, lost weight for the role and would even go missing for hours on end to prepare for the role. A far cry from Batman, Bale gives an amazing performance of a man who can’t imagine that his brother wouldn’t want him in his life. He is simply brilliant. The other impressive performance is from Melisa Leo playing the role of Alice. Leo really grabbed the role and ran with it. The chain-smoking mother was a typical over-bearing mom who focused so much on Dickey and his past success, but couldn’t see she was ruining Mickey and any success that he could have. You truly hated who she was, although you found out quickly that she wanted the best for her boys and simply couldn’t imagine not being a part of the team. She was masterful and should get a Best Supporting Actress nomination. She was a definite scene-stealer at times and you left the theatre saying, "I'm not exactly sure who that lady was, but my God can she act". The other pleasant surprise was Amy Adams. Adams hasn’t really had to act in most of her movies, but that’s mainly because she has stuck to cookie-cutter popcorn flicks like Enchanted and Julie and Julia. While I thought she was good in the drama Doubt, her performance was overshadowed by veterans Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Fighter, however, was a completely different role for Adams, who had to play a sort of trashy-looking bartender with a brain and an attitude. You’re so used to watching Adams be this nice, quiet girl who is polite and kind, so this is a total 180 from what you're used to seeing. Her interactions with Mickey’s family are great, and I was really pleasantly surprised. Mark Whalberg, who is the star of the movie, was simply overshadowed by the performances of Bale, Leo, and Adams. It wasn’t that he was bad, because you truly felt bad for his character. He portrayed a guy with an internal struggle well, but he is not as noticeable compared to the other actors in the film.
The other performances that won’t get talked about as much but should are the work of director David O. Russell and director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema. Director Darren Aronofsky, whose picture Black Swan could go up against The Fighter come Oscar time, was originally attached to direct The Fighter but backed out and stayed on as a producer. Now, I’m not a huge Aronofsky fan. I wasn’t crazy about The Wrestler, and I can’t stand how the movie looks visually. But you could see his influence on The Fighter when the fight scenes would take place. Hoytema set it up so that when you watched the fight, it looked as if you were watching it on your television set back in 1985. It was a little thing that made a big difference for me and I thought it was an awesome addition to the movie. Russell was able to get amazing performances from Bale, who generally turns in a solid performance, but then also Leo and Adams. He set up the feel of small-town Massachusetts well I thought -- where everyone knows everyone, hardworking and honest to a tee. The fight scenes were amazingly realistic. Most boxing movies have a tendency to not let the actors actually box. They slow it down and it looks faked, but Russell really did a great job at putting the fight scenes at full speed. Some boxing movies you watch and think, "Man, just fight back" but in this movie you realized that at times he couldn’t because his opponent was so quick.
This was the first movie in a long time where during the movie I had goosebumps. Walking out of the theater, I was in awe of what I had seen and immediately tried to think of when the last movie was that I saw that was as good as The Fighter. It's been a day now, and I still can’t think of the last movie I felt this strongly about. One word came through my mind throughout the film, and that was Oscar. This movie should rake in nominations and a few awards and it's very deserving. My favorite movie of all time is Rocky, and I thought this was better. For me, that’s huge praise. Combine the acting with the director’s vision, include the story line, and you have a tour-de-force that will keep you enthralled for all 115 minutes. I wouldn’t say go to see this, I'd say run to see it.