Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Review: The Fighter

This is also posted at OK.

The Fighter is about a real-life dude whose life was a remake of the movie Rocky. David O. Russell directs, Mark Wahlberg stars and Amy Adams Adrians.

Wahlberg’s character is Boston pugilist Micky Ward, the only boxer in history – other than Rocky – to discover the secret to winning all boxing matches is to stand there and get the snot beaten out of you for the entire match before pummeling your tired opponent at the last second for a dramatic ultimate victory.

Micky has got it rough. He lives in the part of Boston so bad, you can major in one of only two subjects: boxing or crack. Micky’s older brother, Dicky (Christian Bale), chose boxer, before changing his mind and going with crack. Bear in mind that if you want to be both a boxer and crackhead in the same lifetime, you pretty much have to do them in that order. So in a sense, Dicky is excellent at prioritizing.

The rest of Micky’s support structure is hardly more effective. There’s his mom/manager (Melissa Leo), whose knowledge of the sport matches that of a mediocre Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out player, and a pack of seven sisters who are useful only when forming mobs to chase down Micky’s girlfriends.

I have to say, Micky’s name weirded me out, being the same as Rocky’s trainer. Whenever someone would say something like “Hey, Mickey’s coming!” I’d get all excited and expect to see Burgess Meredith rise from the grave to take one last crack at training Rocky for the title, but alas, I was let down each time.

That’s about the only way in which the movie disappointed me. It’s a story that could have been schmaltzy in lesser hands, but somehow not only hits every note just right, but bludgeons every note with a right cross that bloodies the note’s eyes and dislodges its nose. Chief among reasons the movie works is Adams, whose version of Adrian – here a spunky college dropout bartender – isn’t the “oh please oh please Rocky stop fighting Adrian” from Rockys 3 through 5, but the badass, “you’d better win or else you’re sleeping on the couch” Adrian from the earlier movies. Adams is such an adept performer that she displays layers of nuance and heartbreaking sentiment in one scene, while bending over in front of the camera as other characters snidely evaluate her ass in another.

Bale, looking more Joker than Batman, is astounding as Dicky. So convincing was Bale as a crackhead that I didn’t even realize it was him until the end credits rolled. I expected the screen to read “Dicky…. Played by ACTUAL CRACKHEAD” but sure enough, it said Christian Bale.

One could easily determine that the title not only refers to Micky, but Bale and Adams’ characters as well. As well as myself, as I continue to duck and cover, insisting to myself “This isn’t as good as Rocky! This ISN’T as good as Rocky!” Only to speculate that if I let down my guard at the end of the fight, this stubborn palooka will floor me and convince me otherwise.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, based on a story by Johnson, Tamasy and Keith Dorrington. Directed by David O. Russell. 115 minutes. Rated R.

1 comment:

Ashley O said...

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg are my boyfriends.