Directed by: David O. Russell
Running Time: 115 minutes
As the Oscars loom, one film that has been nominated, The Fighter, can certainly stand up to the critics punches and, in the end, deliver.
Set in small town Lowell, Massachusetts, The Fighter is the true story of an Irish-American boxer named Micky Ward [Mark Wahlberg] and his half brother Dick Eklund [Christian Bale]. Ward grow’s up in awe of his older brother’s boxing career, having once fought, and knocked down, Sugar Ray Lewis some years previous. It’s Micky’s dream to do better than his brother and secure a world title belt, but a bad spell of form of three consecutive losses, including quite an embarassing defeat, land’s him the title of ‘stepping stone’ and the public resign his career to nothing. Not helping is his brother’s worsening crack addiction which sees him arrive late for training and causes him to make irrational decisions thus hampering Micky’s career. It is when Ward meets Charlene [Amy Adams] that he begins to decide if he’ll continue his career with or without Dick and see his dream through.
Narritively The Fighter won’t bring any surprises, its a typical true story turned into Hollywood film and thus contains all the twists and turns therein. It is in the individual performances that the film shines. Wahlberg is solid as ever and must be credited for his work off screen as much as his work on, he is assuredly convincing as a boxer. Plaudits too must go to the two lead female’s in Melissa Leo who play’s Micky’s mother Alice Ward and Amy Adams, both are deserving of any nominations or rewards they receive. Leo in particular is incredibly impressive in what is a tough role as Alice Ward and she will certainly secure many future roles following this performance.
Ultimately, it is Christian Bale who steals the show from under everyone’s noses. His portrayal of Dicky Eklund is almost scarily accurate, especially when you see stock footage of the real Dicky during the credits. Bale’s movements, mannerisms, speech, everything is nailed perfectly. His method acting certainly is paying dividends, he is even rumored to have reached a lower weight then when he was filming The Machinist for this film, dedication indeed. Other Oscar nominees may have given up hope already, despite John Hawkes role in Winter’s Bone surely running a close second.
The Fighter is a film held down by its performances, the cinematography is good but not breath taking, quite like the narrative, it’s solid. Although there are a few slow motion montage moments that tip their hat to Raging Bull the film doesn’t contain the same cinematic flair that its predecessor does, in fact it is decidely ordinary in comparison, artistically at least. But that doesn’t matter, it is the acting and the acting alone that makes this film worthy of critical acclaim and Oscar nomination. It seems now that anything Wahlberg produces and Bale acts in quite simply turns to gold.