ADS 468x60

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Review: The Fighter (15) ★★★★
A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.


Is The Fighter, Rocky for a new generation? In a way, yes, you can't help but compare it to Stallone's masterpiece but for all it's similarities it's still a very different film.

It's a standard story that's laid out in front of you, underdog gets a chance at the big time and along the way to the big time comes up against varying obstacles. You've seen it a million times, in a million different movies but where the The Fighter triumphs is that it concentrates on and makes the characters the main focal point rather than the story itself.

To say that The Fighter is a character piece is an understatement, it's based on a true story and you can see why David O Russell was drawn to the project. The Fighter is essentially the story of Micky and Dickie Ward, both boxers but both with different styles and personalities. It has been marketed and sold as the story of Micky Ward but since Dickie has so much involvement and has his own character arc its as much about him as his brother.

Dickie Ward is the older of the two brothers who has now retired from the ring, his highlight being that he once knocked down Sugar ray Leonard. Dickie now spends his time 'training' his younger brother inbetween frequenting his favourite crack den and being filmed by a HBO film crew about the life of a crack addict. Dickie delusionally believes that they are there to film his big comeback and its quite emotional to see that he truly believes this.

Micky is Dickie's younger brother and is a boxer not really going anywhere. This is down in part to Dickie's involvement, or non-involvement as the case may be and continually keeping Micky in his slender shadow. When Dickie finally gets busted for assaulting police officers, Micky takes it upon himself to get his own fighting crew together and finally makes headway into the boxing world. All the while Dickie views his brothers progress from behind prison bars and slowly comes to realise that his is a life wasted and it's his brother who needs his support.

There are no surprises in this movie, it plays out exactly how you expect it to but it's the performances that drive this forward, with Christian Bale delivering a grandiose acting class as Dickie. As per The Machinist Bale has slimmed himself right down (although not to The Machinists extent) to play the drug addict and has all the mannerisms and wide eyed stares down to a tee. Bale is a credit to his profession when he makes sacrifices the way he does for roles and as always the result is astonishing. Mark Wahlberg plays Micky as almost a direct opposite to Bale's Dickie, withdrawn with a quiet demeanour he makes Micky seem vulnerable even when he's in the ring with his opponents. It's a solid, confident performance but is clearly overshadowed by Bale who to be fair is in the much more intriguing and challenging role.

Amy Adams plays Charlene, Micky's girlfriend, with a feisty punch who speaks her, and at times, Mickys mind. To be fair she even has more balls than him when it comes to standing up to his insane and very large family. Then there is Melissa Leo as the Wards mother, a brash, no nonsense, straight talking mother who also acts as Micky's manager. Again another confident assured role and brings a heavy amount of grit to family matters.

David O Russell has directed a film which through it's core has heart and confidence, this comes across in the film making and in the actors performances. He's let Christian Bale off the lead and allowed him to create a character that will no doubt be the one people come away from the film remembering.


Post a Comment