A soft spoken, hard working, hometown boxer overcomes his brother/trainer’s drug addiction and overbearing family to bring redemption to all those involved. That is the story of The Fighter, and it is no wonder that this movie was Mark Wahlberg’s passion project for the better part of half a decade.
Not only is the film the true story of comeback kid Micky Ward, it is set in Wahlberg’s home state of Massachusetts. With Amy Adams as Charlene, the hometown heroine with a sharp tongue and high hopes for Micky. And with cult movie star Christian “I am acting here” Bale, as the crack addicting brother, you’ve got a recipe to get yourself an oscar nomination.
A fact which will most likely lead critics to write a string of mediocre to negative reviews comparing The Fighter to Stallone’s passion project about a redemptive pugilist, Rocky. And to be fair it is not a totally ridiculous parallel as both films are primarily about small town guys who find success through brutality and violence, but we love them because they’ve got the heart to persevere.
These stories are classically American, we love the underdog. It has been in our cultural DNA since we opened a big can of whoop ass on the British at Yorktown, after the original training montage at Valley Forge. I can just see George Washington taking a victory lap with Apollo Creed screaming “Martha!”
Anyway, The Fighter is a good movie that doesn’t deserve to be compared to Oscar winners until it has had it’s own crack at award season. Especially, given the strong performances of both Amy Adams and Christian Bale. While Adam’s did not have a ton to do in the film outside of be attractive, she does have some hilarious scenes with the trashy sisters of Wahlberg who are the best image of Lowell townies.
Bale, on the other hand, is very strong as the cracked out, former pride of Lowell boxer, older half-brother and mentor Dickie Eklund. Eklund’s claim to fame was knocking down boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, a fact much debated in the film. Unfortunately, Wahlberg really doesn’t really show you anything that he hasn’t before despite the strong performances around him.
The real power of The Fighter is how effectively it draws you into the true story. The climatic scenes of Micky’s title shot bout are dramatic on their own, but there is the added element of not really knowing which way the fight is going to go…unless you know Ward’s story. Which I won’t ruin for those of you who haven’t heard of him, and honestly it makes the film better if you don’t.
I would say this is a film worth seeing in the theaters, for the avid movie goer. But for those of you who are luke warm, their is no harm in waiting for the DVD release. A solid 45 out of 50, on Pale Thunders new SPF scale of goodness.