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Wick's Review

Created Dec 19, 2010 11:51AM PST • Edited Feb 21, 2016 09:49PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    New addition to the boxing movie canon? Absolutely, complete with elemental title, elemental story and devastating performances. A female power story as much as a male one, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Mark Walhberg’s maternal-fraternal triangle pegs the meter for codependency. When Amy Adams’ resolute girlfriend pokes her pretty little nose into the family unit, F-bombs rain down, hair gets pulled and the pug in the middle proves defenseless against the ones he loves. Elemental.

    The fact that it’s largely a biopic of boxing champ “Irish” Micky Ward and his operatically dysfunctional family makes The Fighter realistically powerful. Often funny, the movie tickles as much as it slugs, especially when the Harpy Chorus of Micky Ward’s six sisters (yes, six!) come into the picture. Wow. Euripides would applaud.

    Fans of boxing movies have to see The Fighter. Fans of dark comedy, family drama, plucky girlfriends and other assorted cinematic delights should join them.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Amy Adams delivers as fine a performance as she – or any actress – has, will or could. Giving as good as she gets, especially standing up to her Micky’s Harpy Chorus Sisterhood, she does almost a complete Marisa Tomei playing a girl who drinks too much but knows the right thing when it’s in front of her. This role? We’re talking a million miles from Enchanted.

    Amongst a passel of newly classic Amy Adams moments is her “OK then” when Micky wins a huge fight. Synapses overloaded, there’s a bundle of joy, relief and trepidation in that “OK then.” Stellar.

    Christian Bale proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s an actor of the first rank, the rank that includes De Niro, Pacino, Hoffman, and even a boxing Brando. Physically transformed, wiry instead of beefy, gaunt and hollow eyed, he slides through the jive dance of the crackhead. Acting gets no better.

    Melissa Leo’s Grandma Cougar pegs the stage mom meter. Leo’s been leather tough before. Check her out in Frozen River. Here she creates a leathery glamour in an Oscar worthy performance.

    Wahlberg uses his underwear model body and nice guy genuineness to great effect as the pug in the middle. He easily holds up the central role in this, his passion project.

    Notables from the rest of the uniformly outstanding cast:

    • The six actresses who play the Eklund sisters form a Greek chorus the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a modern movie.
    • Veteran character actor Jack McGee ably conveys Micky Ward’s emasculated Father.
    • Mickey O’Keefe deserves special notice for playing himself. A police officer and former boxer, he trained Micky Ward in real life and in the movie.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5

    Wahlberg was great, Bale was perfect.

  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Great 4.0

    True story origins still leave the outcome in doubt, making the big fight scenes gripping in the extreme. Is it “the best boxing film ever,” as Sports Illustrated just dubbed it? Maybe. Reigning champ Raging Bull was more about the corrosive effects of celebrity. Boxing – though the best ever filmed – was a means to an end.

    The Fighter is about a real life Rocky, a too-good-to-be-true fighter who only wanted a fair shot, and got one. Notwithstanding the Shakespearean familial drama enveloping him, this film is more about boxing. That makes it the winner by TKO.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Using a combination of classically executed tracking shots out of the ring and HD video in, David O. Russell proves a master of the modern moving image yet again, just as he did in Three Kings. Brilliant.

  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.7

    Lots of ring violence: smashed noses, blood fountains, etc. Equally tough is the language from the Eklund women: mother and six daughters. Wow.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.0
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.5
  18. Glib 1.2

    The movie shines an important light on the societal decimation wrought by crack cocaine.

    Regarding Micky Ward’s career, why did Wahlberg and Russell cut out the trio of title bouts with Arturo Gatti that capped it? Must have been for length reasons, since the movie is already just shy of two hours.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.3
  20. Biological Glib 1.4
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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