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Review: The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter (2010)

Directed by: David O. Russell

Premise: The true story of boxing brothers Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dickey Eklund (Christian Bale).

What Works: The Fighter is a very good boxing film. The best sports films generally put the competition in some kind of greater context, either for the players or for the community. The Fighter frames Mickey Ward’s boxing career within the drama of his family, namely his mother’s mismanagement and his older brother’s drug addiction. This makes for a terrific story as Ward gradually asserts himself and takes control of his life. This growth isn’t without personal cost and the relationship between Ward and his older brother is extraordinarily well done. This is largely due to the Christian Bale’s performance as Dickey Eklund. Although it is a supporting role, this is one of Bale’s best performances and he completely and unapologetically embodies a well intentioned but disgustingly irresponsible human being. Another strong performance is given by Amy Adams. Adams gets to play against type, cast in The Fighter as a scrappy, hard drinking but level headed love interest of Wahlberg’s character, and she provides the audience with an empathetic point of view through which to enter the story. As a boxing film, The Fighter features some of the usual conventions of the genre such as training and fighting montages but it does not dwell on them or overuse them.

What Doesn’t: Mark Wahlberg is a questionable casting choice for the role of Mickey Ward. Although Wahlberg is able to handle the boxing scenes just fine, a performer with a more subtle acting style might have conveyed a greater complexity as Ward faces difficult choices. Wahlberg is also the only member of the main cast who does not speak with an accent.

Bottom Line: The Fighter is a very good boxing film. While it might not reach the heights of Raging Bull or Rocky it is better than a lot of similar films such as Million Dollar Baby.

Episode: #320 (December 26, 2010)