The Fighter

24 Sep

By josh

Let it be known, Oscar loves a fighter. As far as the professional sports go, pugilism is the number one contender when it comes to the Academy Awards. Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull – even Hilary Swank got into some girl-on-girl action in Million Dollar Baby – all won major awards, and only Stallone missed out on the acting honors, losing to Peter Finch for Network.  So when a boxing film comes along, any actor is going to beat down the door to get it – the story of the individual, rising from adversity, honing their craft, scrapping to make it to the top, dripping blood and sweat while reaching for the gold – kinda sounds like the life of an actor anyway. Plus, this one is guaranteed Oscar fodder. The Fighter is the next boxing film to get in the ring, and Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are the latest ones chasing the title.

The true life story of street kid Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his troubled brother Dickie (Bale) is the centerpiece here, as we see a struggling boxer get a shot at the big fight. Wahlberg’s embarrassing money bout lands him in the hot seat as the laughing stock of his Boston neighborhood, and Bale’s trouble with the law lands him in jail. After giving up, Wahlberg goes the redemption route, lets go of his brother, takes solace in the arms of a new lady, Amy Adams, and makes one last run at the title. Will Micky win this last fight, or go down with his glass chin up, making a last respectable showing? We’ll just have wait and find out…

We can’t help watching this trailer thinking we’ve already seen this movie three and four times over. The already mentioned Rocky and Raging Bull meets Gone Baby Gone and Good Will Hunting’s Boston setting. Boxing has always been the perfect metaphor for overcoming personal adversity. Not a team sport, it’s one man dealing with struggles both in and out of the ring, and their triumph is theirs and theirs alone, with coaches and women and onlookers coming in and out, helping or hurting the cause. It’s why actors love the role, as they get to prove their worth without having to share the screen time with any teammates, and why the Academy loves the films, because whether or not they win or lose, they go the distance, toe to toe with an opponent who is always portrayed as not having to work as hard to get to the title themselves. Can we ever get a boxing movie where both fighters are shown in a dramatic light? No, because that’s just not how drama works.

The thing that’s going to save this movie isn’t the directing or the choreography (boxing movies always get choreography nominations), but the acting. We’ve got Mark Wahlberg, who despite his ups and downs in role choices, has proven he can be taken seriously in Boogie Nights and The Departed. And Amy Adams’ breakout role in Enchanted has been followed up with the indie Sunshine Cleaning and charming turns in a list of chick flicks, not to mention those pants in Night at the Museum: Battle  of the Smithsonian. But the real knock out here is Christian Bale and his gaunt appearance. We’ve seen Bale dangerously drop weight before in The Machinist, and he dives in deep again here, looking like a junkie fallen boxer, who at one point could’ve been a contender, but the hardships of the neighborhood turned him to drugs and crime. Yes, Mark Wahlberg is the main character, but the star will prove to be Bale, who has proven that he can get intense on set, and drudge out all the nastiness that the role requires. He’s not afraid to look foolish, and that fear is what holds lesser actors back from achieving true greatness. If it weren’t for the lame inspirational score that takes over halfway through the clip, we’d be convinced that The Fighter could overcome its obvious influencers.

So, will it suck?

Yes. Despite the pedigree held by boxing flicks, this one just seems too easy. The struggling street hood (Rocky) with the trainer who has personal struggles (don’t forget, Paulie was a drinker) and the neighborhood girl that becomes his muse (Adriiiiiian!) – it’s Rocky with a Southie accent. It can be good, but don’t expect to walk out thinking you’ve just seen something original. However, keep an eye on Bale come Oscar time. The Academy loves a transformation; see Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, or the adage about going “full retard” in Tropic Thunder. You can expect Bale to beef back up to take on the still unnamed villain in the next Batman installment, but for now he’s committed to the role, and don’t expect The Fighter won’t go down swinging.


6 Responses to “The Fighter”

  1. caro September 25, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    i have an american friend (i’m french) who yet saw the movie in a screen test and said it was a R rated dramedy with full of drama,very funny and entertaining !
    And YES! the real stars are the actors and Bale steals the show


    • Will It Suck? September 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

      Hey, maybe we’re wrong about this (we’ve been known to be wrong before), but we can agree with your friend – Christian Bale is going to make some noise with this one.

      So France, eh? We’re new and still building up, so how did we make it to France? How’d you find us?



  1. In Theaters This Weekend: December movie season officially starts with a low roar « Will It Suck? - December 11, 2010

    […] limited release: The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale’s inspiring movie about a boxer that’s down and out, but gets […]


  2. In Theaters This Weekend: Holiday movie season FINALLY arrives! « Will It Suck? - December 17, 2010

    […] The Fighter opens this weekend as well, and it’s making a strong case for Oscar contention. The true story of Boston boxer Micky Ward (played by Boston actor Mark Wahlberg), and his junkie brother and former boxer himself (played by Christian Bale), is the centerpiece here, and it’s the struggle between knowing when to fight for your family, and when to fight for yourself that’s going to carry this one into Oscar season. Now don’t get us wrong – if you think you’re going to see any acting better than Christian Bale this year, you’re wrong; he’s going to run away with this one. But the movie as a whole just doesn’t strike us as the same caliber as a Rocky or Raging Bull. Bale is a heavyweight here, but the rest of this movie should just throw in the towel. […]


  3. In Theaters This Weekend: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… « Will It Suck? - December 22, 2010

    […] and nibbled on the refreshing morsels the studios save for a last minute Oscar grab (Black Swan, The Fighter), but it’s finally here, our most anticipated movie of the holiday season, and it just so happens […]


  4. Oscar Picks and Winners « Will It Suck? - February 28, 2011

    […] Actor in a Supporting Role Christian Bale – The Fighter – Bale had possibly the best performace at the theaters this year, and on top of the slight the Academy gave to Andrew Garfield in this category for The Social Network, we’ll have to say this one is all sown up John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone Jeremy Renner – The Town Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are Alright Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech And the winner is: Christian Bale […]


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