PG Cooper: The Fighter Review

Posted: December 20, 2010 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: December 10th, 2010

Written by: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson

Directed by: David O. Russell

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo

The Fighter really came out of nowhere for me. I had never seen any of the directors other films and didn’t really have too much interest in the film. Then I saw the trailer and was pretty impressed, especially by the acting. Then the film started getting rave reviews and doing well on the awards circuit, including getting nominated for Best Picture at The Golden Globes. At that point, I was pretty pumped to see it. So after seeing Black Swan, I figured I’d check this out too.

The Fighter revolves around two brothers from Lowell, Massachusetts, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Dicky is a former boxer, who is working as his brother’s trainer, but he’s struggling with a cocaine addiction. Micky, who is significantly younger than his brother, is burnt out from years of boxing with nothing to show for it and wants to break free from his family’s control. But Micky finds new motivation in his girlfriend Charlene Flemming (Amy Adams).

The film’s greatest strength is easily the acting. Mark Wahlberg plays the lead character, “Irish” Micky Ward. While Wahlberg’s role doesn’t really push him as an actor, it is a very strong performance all the same. Wahlberg really wins you over in this role and you do really get behind him. His performance is more subtle than the other actors in the film and a lot of his character just comes out of Wahlberg’s facial expressions.

The supporting cast actually outshines Wahlberg in this. Christian Bale has a show-stopping performance as Dicky Eklund. Bale is known for being able to undergo drastic physical change to play a character. Bale does that here once again. Bale somehow managed to look like a lanky cocaine addict, yet still be a muscular, former boxer. Bale’s actual performance is remarkable and he fully creates the character of Dicky Eklund. He manages to make Dicky a character the audience realizes is a problem, but also someone the audience really sympathizes with. I also have to praise Amy Adams for going against type with her role as Charlene. Adams is known for playing sweet and innocent characters, here, Adams is playing someone with an attitude and utilizes her sexuality. Micky’s actual family is made up of colorful characters, especially his mother, played very well by Mellisa Leo.

The script is well-written, but not completely original. The story is fairly run-of-the-mill and the film does become fairly predictable. They do somewhat make up for this with some good dialogue and really interesting and likable characters. I also feel the film has some pacing issues as there were stretches were I felt the story dragged.

Aside from this, I’ve never seen any other David O. Russell films. Though after seeing this, I mean to because he’s definitely a good director. Throughout the film, different styles are used for different scenes. For example, there are scenes in the film where a documentary about Dicky is being filmed. These scenes use the documentary style very well. Then for some of the boxing scenes, Russell made it feel as if you were watching the match on TV by using a hand held camera style, and at times making the screen fuzzy.

The Fighter is a flawed film, no question. It’s story is predictable and the film’s pacing could have been better. That said, the acting, writing, and direction is excellent. It’s so good in fact, that at times you forget how standard the story really is. And I have to admit, despite a predictable story, I did find myself getting behind the film and it left me with a good feeling. With all it’s flaws, The Fighter is still a great film and one of the best of the year.

Rating: A-

  1. Thomas Gatto says:

    Sooner or later I’ll check this out. I followed most of Ward’s career, especially his trilogy with Arturo Gatti. Those were some brutal wars. How does it compare to recent boxing films like Cinderella Man and Million Dollar Baby?

    • pgcooper1939 says:

      I’m not the best person to ask since I haven’t seen Million Dollar Baby and only saw about half of Cinderella Man. Based on what I’ve seen from Cinderella Man though, The Fighter is better.

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