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Wick's Review

Created Sep 03, 2016 04:03PM PST • Edited Dec 09, 2018 12:52AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Good 3.0

    Hands of Stone is a ham-fisted biopic of boxing great Roberto Durán. Raging Bull it’s not, notwithstanding Robert De Niro in a major role. That said, it does provide clear insight into Durán’s impoverished childhood, rise to prominence and fall from grace after his “No Mas” capitulation to Sugar Ray Leonard.

    The generally disappointing cast includes Édgar Ramírez as Durán, De Niro as his legendary trainer Ray Arcel and Usher as Sugar Ray Leonard. Fortunately, Ana de Armas jumps off screen, first as a schoolgirl crush and later as a glamorous boxing wife. This Cuban actress is a serious contender for real stardom.

    Speaking of being a contender, Roberto Durán’s biopic-worthy story is certainly compelling. Thus Hands of Stone could have been a contender, but turns out to be more worthy of an undercard than a title bout.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Édgar Ramírez ain’t no Robert De Niro when it comes to playing self-destructive boxing champs. His Roberto Durán seems more callow than callused.

    Robert De Niro plays legendary trainer Ray Arcel, who had a late career renaissance training Durán. Yet the great De Niro – cinema’s Raging Bull himself – often seems to be phoning in his lines.

    Ana de Armas dazzles as Durán’s wife Felicidad. de Armas convincingly goes from virginal schoolgirl to va-va-va-voom arm-candy to wizened wife. She’s one to keep an eye on.

    Speaking of wives, Ellen Barkin beguiles as Ray Arcel’s wife Stephanie. Barkin is a true star.

    • Usher (yes, that Usher) does fine as boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, even though he ought to keep his day job.
    • Jurnee Smollett-Bell is better as Sugar Ray’s wife Juanita.
    • Oscar Jaenada provides something akin to comic relief as Durán’s street brother.
    • Rubén Blades is rather wan as a Panamanian boxing promoter.
    • John Turturro gives a meaty turn as made-man Frankie Carbo.
    • John Duddy appears in the ring as Scottish boxer Ken Buchanan.
    • Reg E. Cathey seems more caricature than character as corrupt promoter Don King.
  4. Male Stars Very Good 3.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. OK 2.5

    The boxing action is so-so, the pacing episodic at best, the script little more than workmanlike. Yet Jonathan Jakubowicz’s film suffers most from poor editing. Many scenes simply fade to black.

  9. Direction OK 2.5
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals OK 2.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.3
  15. Sex Titillating 2.2
  16. Violence Fierce 1.9
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.7
  18. Glib 1.3

    Roberto Durán was a global star and a hero in his native Panama. Hands of Stone is at its best showing his hardscrabble childhood, including his nationalistic furor towards the United States over the Panama Canal. Later in the film, the boxing world centered around Madison Square Garden comes under the spotlight, including Mafia kingpins and the corrupt promoter Don King.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.9
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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