- Movie Rating -

The Fighter (2010)

| December 18, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Fighter is a boxing movie and family drama in which the central mistake it that it focuses on the wrong family member. Here is the story – based on true events – about “Irish Mickey” Ward (Mark Wahlberg), a welter-weight boxer who is working to pick up a boxing career where his brother left off.

His brother is Dickey (Christian Bale), who was once on his way, got far enough to step in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard and allegedly knock him down. Now, years later, Dickey is a crackhead and miscreant who is always in and out of trouble. You tell me which one sounds more interesting.

Mickey’s family is over-sized. Aside from brother Dickey, there is his mother Alice (Melissa Leo), a domineering figure who smokes so many cigarettes it is almost an afterthought. Her noisy house – which also include seven scary looking daughters – is filled with endless chatter. Everyone talks at once at a volume that threatens to bust the windows. It is no wonder Mickey seems shy and withdrawn.

That’s also my problem. Mickey doesn’t seem to come from this family. The rest of the family looks weathered and beaten down by life. They are noisy, loud, boisterous and opinionated while Mickey is pretty and clean. He seems like a neighbor who has come to visit. His story is your standard, average boxing movie all about hard training and the love of a good woman (the incomparable Amy Adams), but I was more interested in Dickey’s story, about how a kid on the rise got sidelined by his own excesses. A good deal of the movie is concerned with Dickey being followed around by a film crew from HBO that have come, he thinks, to film his comeback. Really, they are focusing on his crack habit.

I like Mark Wahlberg. He is generally charismatic, but there isn’t anything about Mickey Ward that is worth noting. I can’t say that about Dickey, who is occupied by Christian Bale as if he has been in the Boston neighborhood his whole life. His face is weathered with deep lines. His body is thin, gaunt and unhealthy. His eyes are wide and his voice scratchy from a lifetime of hard living. This is a very different Christian Bale, not at all polished as he was in films like American Psycho or the recent Batman pictures.

The Fighter is a return for director David O. Russell who made a great comedy 14 years ago with Flirting with Disaster and a great drama with 1999’s Three Kings, then dropped off the radar. He only directed one film in the last 10 years, the nugatory I Heart Huckabees. What these films have in common is that he shows his control over a large cast. He modulates a lot of characters and gives them all their own personality. The Fighter has that but I wish it has a better narrative structure. Here is a movie about a great cast of characters assembled for a substandard story.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2010) View IMDB Filed in: Drama