This is great stuff. Following the true story of Massachusetts’ welterweight Micky Ward’s road to glory, The Fighter is as interested in the family drama as it is the boxing. There’s no shortage of it as Micky (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself in the middle of an emotionally charged family hell-bent on interfering with his life and career. This support cast is exceptional: the fiery girlfriend (Adams), overbearing mum (Melissa Leo), caught-in-the-hurricane dad (Jack McGee) and a flock of bizarre, squawking sisters (seven of them). More
Christian Bale plays Dickie, Ward’s crack-addicted brother, a former boxer who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard (or did Leonard trip over? Depends on your point of view). His wild, hilarious performance brilliantly captures a man with a veneer of staunch pride and a stack of insecurities underneath. Watching him and Wahlberg’s Micky, a big-hearted dreamer, is the year’s first real highlight for me.
The filmmaker and the material were always going to be intriguing bedfellows – David O. Russell’s fantastic earlier movies are controversial (Three Kings) and philosophical (I Heart Huckabees) – whereas this is straight, classic sports drama. The match-up works thanks to Russell’s taste for the unusual. He finds new blood in well-tread fare with moments of hilarity, realism in the ring and outstanding performances.
On its way to the inevitable big bout, The Fighter dallies with schmaltz but is always compelling and it earns its uplifting finale. Plus, the fights are awesome. Hide