Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund in this inspiring drama based on the fighter’s rise from working-class Lowell, Mass., to world-class welterweight champ. After a string of defeats, Mickey rediscovers his fighting will with help from Dicky — a once-talented pugilist battling drug addiction. The film earned multiple Golden Globe nods, including Best Motion Picture (Drama).
Rating: 8 out of 10
Director David O. Russell is one of the brightest minds in filmmaking. If you’re not familiar with his work, he’s responsible for the “I Heart Huckabees,” “Three Kings,” and the fabulous “Spanking the Monkey.” Historically, his work has always been original and visionary. His style is truly his own. That’s why I’m very surprised to see him do such a standard docudrama as “The Fighter.” It’s not that the film is bad — far from it. It’s a very solid story based on the true events of a middle of the road boxer who gets the chance to fulfill his dreams of becoming a boxing world champion. Sound familiar? Yes, I know it has been done to death but rarely in such an accessible and well acted package. Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo are all excellent. But it’s Christian Bale’s turn as Wahlberg’s crack addicted has-been brother that shines above them all. He absolutely disappears in this movie in a performance that is sure to get an Oscar nod and is the early favorite to walk away with the statue. He’s absolutely fantastic in it.
As for the film itself, I found myself most gripped whenever the story veered towards the family dynamic of Wahlberg’s home and professional life and least interested whenever he got into the ring. The fights are well choreographed and shot but I felt the film wasn’t about the fight, it was about life’s struggle to get there.