With all of the boxing movies already out there (Ali, Million Dollar Baby, Rocky, Cinderella Man and so on and so forth) why, pray tell, do we need another? They are all essentially telling the same story. A rise to fame or a fall from glory. What more can they do with the idea?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Fighter. I am not a fan of boxing in general, but I truly found myself becoming emotionally involved with the characters in this movie. There is so much heart that comes across.
Our hero is Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg). He grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts where he learned everything he knows about boxing from his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). His mother and manager, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) is obsessed with her boys fighting and wants them to be the greatest. After all, in his heyday, Dicky knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. This is his big claim to fame and we hear about it at least one hundred times in the first half hour of the film. Dicky Eklund, the pride of Lowell.
When Mickey is entered into a fight against someone nearly twice his size because his original opponent falls ill, he is embarrassed and walks away from everyone and everything with one exception: Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams). As someone who has seen Enchanted more times than any sane person with most of their functioning brain cells left, I had a pretty squeaky-clean image of Amy Adams in my mind. She acted the hell out of an otherwise understated role and did it with all the strength of a woman who doesn’t take guff from anyone.
Charlene and Mickey start dating, much to the chagrin of Mickey’s sisters and mother who think she is just going to distract him. My favorite is when they dub her the “MTV girl” which means that she is wild. Mickey’s sisters… what can one say about this group of girls? With big hair, blue eye shadow, and a beer/cigarette in hand at any given moment, they are one tough crowd to please. See if you can pick out Kate O’ Brien, Conan O’ Brien’s sister, in the group.
But I digress… Charlene has Mickey’s best interests at heart and tries to get him back on track to becoming a great fighter and maybe winning a title. With Dicky Eklund running around and getting into all sorts of shenanigans, Mickey has to focus on himself long enough to forget about his crazy brother and get back in the ring.
Christian Bale gives a spot-on performance. His likability in this film is a constant up and down. I found at one point I had genuine disdain for him. To me, this is one of the signs of a great actor. I don’t know who he is in real life, though I’ve heard stories — “No, Bruce. Let me finish.” — but he worked my range of emotions here and came out on top.
One of my favorite characters in the film was George Ward (Jack McGee). He brings a levelheadedness to an prodigiously chaotic situation.
Like I said, this movie oozes heart and is packed with tremendously talented actors. Sure to get a look from the Academy, The Fighter is one of the best from 2010.