Who said you need multi-million dollar set pieces and groundbreaking photo realistic CGI to make a good action movie. Hollywood has been accused of becoming too dumb and relying on CGI and 3d instead of good acting/directing/scripting to deliver a killer punch. Not so with David O Russell’s “The Fighter”. The Fighter is the story of “Irish Mickey Ward” and his unusual path to world heavyweight championship. The fighter is also the story of Alice Ward, Mickey’s mother and her brood. But more than anything else the fighter is the story of Dicky Eklund, Mickey’s half brother and trainer.
We are introduced to Dicky as a HBO crew follows him around shooting a movie which he believes is biographical of his glory days where he defeated Sugar ray. Dicky is a local legend and generally loved by all but you soon see through his delusions and see a crack addict who’s various infractions are overlooked by his equally delusional mother Alice. Dicky and Alice are Mickey’s trainer and manager respectively and keep getting him into fights he shouldn’t be in and Mickey ends up badly shaken up after one such fight with a 20 pound heavier opponent. Mickey starts seeing Charlene and you see cracks finally appear as Mickey picks the promoter Lanano and agrees to cut Dicky out of his boxing life so that he can focus. Mickey O’ Keefe (playing himself – a Lowell Massachusetts police sergeant) trains Mickey as Dicky is in the prison. While in prison the movie airs and Dicky finally sees himself as the world sees him now – a fallen star and a crack addict. When Mickey visits Dicky in prison Dicky gives him tips for his next match. In the match when his strategy starts to fail Mickey uses what dicky taught him and lands the KO that takes him to the world championship title match.
For the championship match as Dicky brings everyone together and takes Mickey tohis victory all you can do is cringe with each punch that lands on Mickey’s face and cheer with every punch that he lands on his opponent.
This is an ensemble movie – a movie where Russell gathered some of the best acting talents available in Hollywood. You have Amy Adams who plays Charlene –Mickey’s girlfriend who has grown from strength to strength with her supporting roles in Doubt and a leading turn in Julie and Julia. Melissa Leo who was nominated for her lead turn in The Frozen River plays Alice Eklund the mother who turns every possible situation into the Dicky Show. Mark Wahlberg plays Mickey Ward and turns in yet another impressive performance which is hard to believe considering his white-boy-who-raps-and-poses-in-tighty-whiteys beginnings. But the movie clearly belongs to Christian Bale who as Dick Eklund is beyond brilliant. He is one of the finest actors working in Hollywood today. He is a deceptive chameleon who beefs up to play batman and looses over 30 pounds to play the crack addict dick Eklund. When you are watching him you do not see the actor you see the character he is bringing to life.
See this movie because it is simple compelling and at times gut wrenching, see it for it is one of finest ensemble movie this year.See it because if looking at an emaciated Christian bale is hard, imagine how hard it must’ve been for him to get into that role.
This is a reproduction of an article published on my facebook page