4 February 2011
THE FIGHTER- Review
For those unfamiliar, The Fighter is the true story of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward as he came back from obscurity and humiliation to take on the Welterweight Champion of the World. As we find Micky, he's being managed terribly by his domineering family, and trained by his egotistical crackhead brother, Dickie. His brother is the hometown hero, in whose footsteps Micky has always been intended to follow, but as he finds one final chance to realise his potential, it may well mean severing ties with his family.
This Mark Wahlberg thing is a sticking point with me, just because he's so good in this. I laughed along with everyone else at The Happening and Max Payne, and the Saturday Night Live skit in which he's shown to talk to animals remains one of my favourite things. Hell, I even laughed during the Golden Globes TV coverage the other week, which cut back to Wahlberg drinking when someone who wasn't him won an award for acting in The Fighter while he didn't get a mention. That was before I saw the film, and now I'm completely on his side.
It's so strange that he's been overlooked, because all the elements for awards success are there. He's undergone a physical transformation, training for the last four years to achieve the physique he has for just this one film and somehow being overshadowed by Bale going really skinny again. He's playing a real person, just like Best Actor favourites like Colin Firth or Jesse Eisenberg or James Franco. And yet somehow, he's the one who's being overlooked. Shame on all of you.
I realise I'm talking a lot about the general audience and industry response to the film, which largely doesn't matter much in this context, and not saying enough about The Fighter, which is a phenomenally good film. It's inspiring and engaging and just all around excellent in all the places where most modern sports movies usually fall short. The seminal boxing movie is probably Rocky, and there are six of those to choose from. And even putting those aside, there's Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby. It's a crowded field, but The Fighter takes it to the crowd and riles up an audience like no other sports movie I can remember seeing in a cinema.
Speaking of realism though, I feel like I should bring up a discussion I had in the pub about the film, the night after I saw it. We both really enjoyed it, and I praised the acting, the direction and how real the boxing looked. The other guy said that it actually looked choreographed and fake, so I stuck to my guns and asked why. Then he knocked me out by quite rightly pointing out that I don't actually watch or like boxing. Only then did I wake up to the fact that I'd been so hooked into the real story and the world it inhabits that I'd been convinced I knew it better than I did. So the guy in the pub wins some points there. Hey, this review is far enough from the rails already, so personal anecdotes are fine, and relevant, especially when they illustrate the spellbinding and magnetic effect of the film!
The Fighter is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen The Fighter, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.