Saturday, February 12, 2011

The FTT Movie Review: The Fighter

Took this one in with the Five Tool Ninja, who's a bit of a film junkie, at my local theatre today. As sports movies go, it's pretty good: as great movies go, it's just good. Here's the gist.

Mark Wahlberg, continuing to prove the second and third acts of American lives, stars as Mickey Ward, a Masshole boxer and younger half-brother of Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale. Eklund is a crack addict and ex-boxer who serves as Ward's trainer, and his mother, played by scene-chewer Melissa Leo, manages his career. The cast is rounded out by the great Amy Adams as Ward's love interest, Jack McGee from early seasons of "Rescue Me" as his father, a Greek chorus of sisters and cameos from HBO's boxing journalist personnel.

There's always a movement, in any movie that guys like with realistic sports scenes that doesn't play everything for comedy, to give a film like this awards. Wahlberg clearly did a ton of physical work to get in shape for this thing, and Bale and Adams are completely great. The action sequences are very well shot, and the film has legimitately moving scenes, even if they seem pretty formulaic. When you leave the theater, you feel like you've seen something momentous.

But later on, as you think things over, you realize that it kind of passes without too much stick, as it were. You've seen, after all, an underdog white American boxer fight against personal demons and family issues to battle minority boxers. You've also seen conflict between a mother and her son's love interest, and the test of wills that happens when someone from a close-knit family considers working outside of the tried-and-true.

But there's nothing wrong with being a just good movie, particularly with an A-list cast and quality film work. I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars, and if you like boxing, you really can't miss it. And if you don't like boxing, you should miss it... because it makes the sweet science look like so much fun, you'll just want to start training and throw down. Brawl on!

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