Director:- David O.Russell
The most common trait of a sports-related flick is a bog-standard story arc of accomplishment-a great fall- to a climb back up to the top of the mountain. We find reasonance with them as we see them as not superhuman beings, but real people, with real flaws.
One of those, is the story of Lowell, Massachussetts boxing hero ‘Irish’ Micky Ward. A local legend, and half brother of Dicky Eklund, a fighter most notable of his 1978 contest against Sugar Ray Leonard.
At the header of the film, Eklund is Ward’s sparring partner. Prepping him for a fight which could possibly make him a star in the world of boxing. But due to Dicky’s deteroriating well-being and state of mind through a crack-cocaine addiction, Ward’s hopes are swiftly swept away. Their family are left to pick up the pieces, while the two brothers re-asses their lives and what had lead them to that point.
The two leads are supported by Amy Adams as Ward’s future wife Charlene, who is met with hostility and coldness from the Eklund family. Adams is ok, just ok. It’s really a role that anyone could’ve played. The ‘concerned wife’, or ‘love interest’ – it could take any shape or form, it’s essentially a bit-role that takes the heat off of the lead. However, Adams doesn’t really dissappoint as such – just delivers what I would generally expect from such a role. She’s a beautiful actress with a great future, and really should be pushing for more work like this.
Mark Wahlberg is fantastic as Micky Ward. His determination billows through the film’s entirety and there’s a hunger to really show those acting chops that I haven’t seen from Wahlberg since ‘The Departed’. During the second act of The Fighter in particular, where Ward is down and out – you get an ominous feeling of nostalgia as he channels Jake La Motta from Raging Bull, and Rocky himself. To great effect I might add. The fight scenes involving Wahlberg are extremely worthwhile to watch and look incredibly real. Apparently, after years of dedication to training, Wahlberg refused a stunt double, and took the hits himself during those sections.
If there’s one thing The Fighter will be remembered for, it’s Chtistian Bale.
This guy is THE standard. An overwhelming resume, including Empire of The Sun, American Psycho, The Prestige and Batman Begins, has lead up to perhaps his most convincing and powerful role to date. Maybe his defining role. Bale was required to lose weight for the part, which he would find far easier than most people as he’d lost a great deal of weight before shooting The Machinist. He also studied conversations in order to grasp the real depths of Dicky Eklund in preparation for filming.
The film’s central theme is one based on redemption, particularly on the part of Eklund (Bale). As a fallen hero, he see’s his younger brother as his chance to make right all the past wrong-doings he has under his belt. Though you do get a slight inkling of envy throughout the film, due to Ward’s ongoing hunt for glory, and Eklund’s career already passed. But it’s the film’s ending that dramatically washes away any doubts that may have given a preconception that this was simply Ward living out Eklund’s dream. Christian Bale makes a stunningly heart-wrenching speech about his pride for his brother. The scene itself lasts only a few seconds, perhaps a minute – but it just blows you away with the sheer joy and unfathomable happiness he expresses in the words, while Wahlberg humbly acknowledges. It really is something else. Look out come awards season.
The Fighter is no sports film, as such. It’s a well-thought out, and powerfully acted tale of two men’s struggle to redeem themselves.
It’s not how they do it, it’s why they do it.