The Fighter Review

            The Fighter is an almost great film that ends up being just an okay film due to casting issues.  You see, the film has a performance for the ages with Christian Bale’s portrayal of former boxer and current drug addict, Dickie Eklund, but the rest of the cast can’t match up to him.  However, the film relies on all actors being equal as the film contains a lot of arguments between the main characters.  Consequently, everyone else besides Bale’s Eklund comes across as a jerk even though his character is the most morally reprehensible.  So in this aspect the film is a failure.  Luckily, other aspects of the film save it.

            The Fighter follows the real life story of brothers Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale).  Dickie Eklund is the “Pride of Lowell” and constantly reminisces about his glory days when he once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard.  Currently, he is his brother’s trainer, but he harbors a dark secret.  With Dickie falling behind as a trainer for him, Mickey has to decide whether to continue working with his family (including Melissa Leo as his mother) or follow his girlfriend’s (Amy Adams) advice and find a new crew to bring him to a championship.

            The film is directed by I Heart Huckabees helmer David O. Russell and written by Scott Silver (8 Mile), Paul Tamasy (Air Bud), Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington.  The film at times seems like it is about to lose its focus but quickly regains this focus.  It appears that in this case this is mostly due to a lackluster script that was healed by Russell’s style and dedication to his craft.  Despite the film’s many flaws, O. Russell works hard to make the movie his own and at the same time brings the material to another level.  He only partially succeeds but he succeeds a lot more that most directors would with the material.  This easily could have been another Rocky ripoff.

            The cast is the main problem here.  Bale, as mentioned before, is phenomenal in a tour de force performance.  He is (as usual) almost unrecognizable.  He truly looks like a crack-addict and has a Boston accent more authentic then that of a real Boston inhabitant.  If you are unsure about seeing this film, see it just for him.  Melissa Leo as the mother is also solid.  She comes across as a little over the top at times and spends most of her time in the film with the scene-stealing Bale so she doesn’t come across as Oscar-worthy.  Wahlberg is fine until he actually takes a stand for himself.  We are supposed to agree with our hero but when Wahlberg takes his stand we can’t help but feel sorry for Bale as Wahlberg’s character takes him down.  The big miscasting here is Amy Adams as Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene.  Her character is constantly arguing with Bale and Leo’s characters and can never hold a candle to their characters.  Due to this, she comes off as a big jerk when really we are supposed to see a strong woman in her character.

            Sharp editing and some authentic cinematography make the fight scenes really work in this film.  Everything else (Behind the camera) is pretty average.

            In conclusion, The Fighter is a film that only partially succeeds.  Some bad casting and a script that doesn’t know what to do with the material bring the film down.  However, Christian Bale’s performance should be enough for any moviegoer to want to see this film.


As part of Golden Globes Week, all films and TV Series reviewed will include the awards they have been nominated for:
-Best Picture, Drama
-Best Director-David O. Russell
-Best Lead Actor, Drama-Mark Wahlberg
-Best Supporting Actor-Christian Bale
-Best Supporting Actress-Amy Adams
-Best Supporting Actress-Melissa Leo

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