Film Review: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams Deliver Knockouts in ‘The Fighter’

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CHICAGO – David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” is an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser with one of the strongest ensembles of 2010 and the kind of underdog story that’s easy for an audience to embrace and adore. “The Fighter” will have thousands of hardcore fans, people who watch it every time it’s on cable and give it as gifts to their husband, father, or brother. It’s a movie that simply works. Is it great art? Not really. It’s not ambitious enough to be called great art. But it is great entertainment. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

“The Fighter” has a simple title for a reason. Its central character has arguably the least dramatic arc of any boxing movie. Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) fights. He stops fighting. He fights again. Around him swirl an ensemble of larger-than-life characters, but Mickey is the straight man of the piece — the man who fights. And it’s the deceptively simple structure of the story that actually works to its benefit. We can project whatever we want on to Mickey. He can be what we think we are or what we want to be. Most of us won’t identify with the saga of Mickey’s brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) or his borderline-insane mother Alice (Melissa Leo), but we all like to think that we’re a fighter in life.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Fighter” in our reviews section.

And it’s that identifiable aspect of the boxer that has made it the most prominent sport featured in film history. We love to watch men reduced to nothing but their fists who can get up off the mat and beat the odds because we all like to think we can do the same, even if just symbolically. And most of us have been lucky enough to have supportive families like Mickey Ward’s. His brother, mother, and Bud-swilling sisters are undeniably supportive. They may be crazy, but they’re supportive.

“The Fighter” actually begins with the story of Dicky Eklund, a former boxer who still refers to himself as “The Pride of Lowell” for the one match in which he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard (although he might have just slipped). Time has not been kind to Dicky and while he believes that HBO has returned to Lowell to follow his comeback story, they’re actually there to document the impact of crack cocaine. Dicky has absolutely no focus but he also knows how to train his brother. Mickey may be known as a stepping stone, a boxer other managers use to build up their fighter’s resume, but Dicky and Mickey are going to change that.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “The Fighter” review.

‘The Fighter’ stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Jack McGee. It was written by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson and directed by David O. Russell. It opens on December 17th, 2010. It is rated R.

The Fighter
The Fighter
Photo credit: Paramount

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