The Fighter Directed by: David O. Russell Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: R Release Date: December 17, 2010 (Limited)
PLOT: Based on a true story, struggling boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Wahlberg) attempts to give it a real shot, but his brother (Bale) who helps train him, is dealing with his own demons.
WHO'S IT FOR? This is a film that will be nominated for awards. It's a drama with some dysfunctional comedy from the Irish family. It's not a hardcore sports movie, but you'll get caught up in the action.
EXPECTATIONS: I heard great things about Bale's performance, then again both Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were rumored for that part, so it's been around. In general, I trust Russell, Bale and Adams. Wahlberg is hit (The Departed) and miss (The Happening).
ACTORS: Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward: Wahlberg has a natural "aww, shucks" quality about him no matter what the role. Luckily, it's a great fit for Micky. He's soft spoken. He also is an enabler. Micky allows his brother Dicky to tumble into the world of drugs. Micky allows his mother to walk all over him. At first, this seems to completely be about Bale's performance, but then Micky slaps a guy to get the attention of Charlene. That starts his path to finding himself as a boxer. Score: 7
Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund: Yes, Bale lost some weight for this role. He also managed to stay in shape. The man is a chameleon and seems to be willing to do anything for a role. Dicky has demons. He had his chance earlier in life with a fight against Sugar Ray Leonard. He's now become a local celebrity who thinks HBO is following him around to make a documentary about this comeback. The look, the mannerisms, the passion that Bale brings to this role easily makes him a Best Supporting Actor contender. Score: 9
Amy Adams as Charlene Fleming: We've seen her sweet side in Junebug and Enchanted. She proves in The Fighter that she has a pretty good lip on her as well. Her banter with Mickey's family is some of the funniest, most awkward moments of the film. Charlene is a bartender who wants more out of life. She also attempts to take control of Mickey's life (for his own good). It's an understated character even with that dirty mouth. Plus, I love that she actually does some high jumping in this film. Good form. Score: 8
Melissa Leo as Alice Ward: I thought I couldn't hate a mother more than Barbara Hershey's performance in Black Swan. Can I call it a tie? Alice is a controlling woman who runs the lives of her nine children, overlooking their flaws (especially Dicky's) whenever it's convenient for her. Leo is one of those women you recognize (since we call the men that fit that role "That Guy" let's call the women "That Woman"). Anyway, you recognize, but don't know her by name. That might not be the case much longer after this role. Score: 9
TALKING: Just like True Grit, and The King's Speech there are moments in this film that you can't help but laugh. The dynamic between the family is a trainwreck. The accents are good, and the talk definitely fits the town. Charlene has her opinions about the foreign film Belle Epoque when Mickey tries to impress her on a date. Also, with the fight sequences, I think the actual HBO announcers are used and if that's the case, that is a brilliant idea. It blends perfectly and makes the boxing seem as realistic as possible. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Wahlberg looks a little flabby and then pretty damn cut depending on the time line in the film. Both he and Bale look and act like lifetime boxers. The camera switches to actually look like a telecast for most of the fights. Everything about the small town looks authentic. The only thing I didn't love was the quick flashbacks seen above Bale's head when he's in prison. Not only that, even though it's winter right now, I couldn't help but feel a little hot with all of the sweat dripping off the characters in this film. Score: 8
SOUNDS: We're given the gift of "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. There's also some Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Here I Go Again" makes a second appearance when Micky is heading to the ring. Watching Micky and Dicky mouth the words is funny and actually moving. "How You Like Me Now?" by The Heavy eventually had to be overused in a film. The Fighter makes it work. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Watching Dicky jump out of a window is the dysfunctional highlight of this film. Micky, Alice and even Jack McGee as George Ward gets in on the action. George, never take a swing at a boxer. Bad idea.
ENDING: It's based on a true story, but not one you know unless you're really into boxing. It ends when you feel like it should. There's an epilogue of information as well.
QUESTIONS: This isn't a question. Bale, don't kill yourself for a role. OK, now questions ... Don't you want to see if Wahlberg could last a couple of rounds in the ring against a real-life opponent? How do all of the daughters of the real-life Alice feel about their depictions in the film?
REWATCHABILITY: It's definitely worth watching again, though it might be one of those situations where I don't see it again until it's on cable.
We all slow down to watch a trainwreck. This family is most definitely a trainwreck. Alice is the ringleader, with Dicky getting away with a serious crack habit. Micky has dreams, but for the most part, is just used to going a long for the ride. A girl comes along in the form of a very attractive bartender and expects more out of Micky's life. At first, it seems like this is really Bale's film. It definitely is his movie in the beginning. He transforms himself. Every scene seems to call on him to do 20 things at once. Wahlberg is expected to do less, but that's not an insult. He is truly at home in this role and you definitely are rooting for him. Perhaps what is most impressive is this film doesn't seem to be mimicking other boxing films. This is a story about underdogs, a story about brothers, and most importantly this is a trainwreck worth watching.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10