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The Fighter (2010)
One of the best boxing movies ever made
"The Fighter" is arguably the best boxing film that I've ever seen, since "Rocky III." Based off the real life story of former Welterweight champion, Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), as the film displays his unlikely "Rocky-esque" rise to fame before going pro in the mid 1980's. Aided by his brother, Dickie Ecklund (Christian Bale), former boxer turned trainer, who almost got knocked out in life due to drug addiction and crime. What fascinates me most about this movie is not only the strong performances by notably Bale, Wahlberg and Adams, it's the strong underlining themes at play, and how well they mesh together to create a truly powerful story. You have Dickie who not only is a self disillusioned drug addict, he's a man that continues living in the past of former glory.
Constantly bragging about his legendary bout against Sugar Ray Leonard, and disillusions of a potential comeback into the Welterweight ranks at age forty, Dickie fails to see his life what it truly is. He's no legendary boxing contender preparing his brother to become Welterweight champion; while he prepares himself for a potential comeback someday. No, he's nothing more than a disillusioned drug addict trying to live off his brother's success; while living in a past that has long since past.
Christian Bale does a wonderful job portraying this character, as he reminds us why he's one of Hollywood's best actors. Unlike his previous performances in "Public Enemies" and "Terminator Salvation", Bale's performance isn't overshadowed or ignored...rather it shines through perfectly. I'd even say that this is probably one of Bale's greatest performances in his acting career. Definitely a must see for all Bale fans out there, as he's truly at the top of his acting game here. Portraying the self disillusioned ex boxer to perfection, as he comes off narcissistic and arrogant in his performance. Arrogantly bragging to his family and friends how his potential comeback is inevitable, as a camera crew follows him around throughout the beginning of our story. Unaware that the real reason they're following him is to make a documentary about crack addiction, and it's horrific effects. This is a perfect example of Dickie's self disillusioned perception of reality, as he refuses to see the truth for what it actually is.
Then we get to Mickey, who presents another interesting psychological aspect to consider. Ever since he was a kid, Mickey has always looked up to his older brother. Always living underneath his brother's shadow, as his family constantly compared and measured his success to Dickie's. As Mickey's relationship with his family eventually turns sour over the controversy of Dickie's drug addiction problems, he becomes torn between his fierce loyalty to his family and what might be best for his boxing career. Neither is hardly the same choice, as both are at odds with each other. However, in the end, both Dickie and Mickey somehow find a sense of redemption in life, to discover that in spite of any adversity we face in life, there's always hope and the will to change.
Sure, we may sometimes find ourselves living in the past; recalling our old glory days. Heck, we may even sometimes lie to ourselves to blind us from the harsh realities of life. However, if there's one lesson that reigns true for this film's message, "It's that the truth will set you free." When both our main protagonists realize and see reality for what it is, they find redemption in life. A powerful message for any movie to invoke, as "The Fighter" delivers that message with absolute proficiency and perfection.
As for Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams, what else can I say? Like Bale, they both execute their roles perfectly. Mark comes off as his usual sympathetic, down to earth, and charming self in this role; while Amy Adams continues to show that she's one of the most under appreciated actresses in Hollywood. Indeed, she's a rare combination of both beauty and talent if you ask me. Combining the art of being sensual, in one scene, where Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams) and Mickey are about to make love, then only to quickly recover, as she's forced to stand up to Mickey's mother over why he choose to seek new management after Dickie's arrest, in the following scene. Not an easy feat for anyone to do in real life, as one could imagine. Let alone for an actress for try to mimic that same type of intensity in a movie such as this.
"The Fighter" is hands down one of the greatest boxing movies ever conceived. I'd definitely put it up there with the other greats like "Raging Bull" and "Rocky", as "The Fighter" is a knock out of a movie. No pun intended. Definitely worth a full four out of four stars from me. It's literally that good, and definitely one of the best movies out there.