The Fighter review

Posted on 8 February 2011
By Matt Barden
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With a heavyweight of big hitters as competition for the title of best boxing movie ever, this month sees Mark Wahlberg’s The Fighter step into the ring and take its shot at the belt.

Based on the true life career of American-Irish junior Welterweight Champion Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the film chronicles his up and down career all the way to title.

Christian Bale plays Micky’s charismatic crack addict half brother Dicky. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role, Bale steals the film from right under Wahlberg’s feet. Twitching and looking every bit the drug abuser (Bale plummeted to 8st 6lbs for the role); the Welshman proves why he is known as the most devoted method actor of his generation.

The Fighter keeps us ducking and jabbing as the pressures of the ring and family weigh down on Micky. Amy Adams plays his girlfriend Charlene while Melissa Leo is the domineering mother-manager who favours ex-boxer Dicky and purposely places Micky in fights against heavier opponents, never once doubting her own intentions.

The film shines a spotlight on working class Irish-American life and the struggle Micky must contend with from being his family’s only hope of ‘getting out’ of their current situation.

It is essentially a coming of age story. Micky must escape the claustrophobic ‘love’ of his family in order to fulfil his potential in the ring. Despite being at least thirty, he must grow up and become his own man.

The boxing is choreographed beautifully by director David O. Russel and the bleak and oppressive Massachusetts environment proves the ultimate fighter that Micky must overcome in order to succeed.

But somehow the film leaves you slightly let down. It follows the stereotypical path of boxing flicks like Rocky and Million Dollar Baby and ends in similar uplifting fashion. It somehow lacks the punch of a Raging Bull and is not the all-time champion as some have suggested.

What we have here is a very good boxing movie that gives its actors a canvas to show their stuff. But when the bell sounds at the end of the twelfth this film will not be remembered as the Greatest of All Time, but for the uncomfortably brilliant performance by the sullen eyed Christian Bale.