When I first saw the trailer for The Fighter I can’t say I was overly impressed with it. It seemed despite it being based on a true story it was the same cliched, underdog over comes adversity film we’ve seen a million times. So I forgot about it and so I was surprised to see it getting a lot of praise and excellent reviews after it was released and became interested in seeing it.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing it after those reviews but today was the first opportunity I’ve had to see it, so I went in with high hopes of a good film. The story is of Micky Ward, a guy in his mid 30s who’s trying to get a career in boxing going, but is perpetually in the shadow of his older brother who was also a boxer and he once fought Sugar Ray Leonard and basically lives his life bragging about it and is wasting his life addicted to crack and ruining Micky’s chances in the process because he’s supposed to be training him, but is never there to do the job.
When Micky has a shot at a match in Atlantic City, which should be a fairly easy shot his family are keen to get him in the ring and get him some recognition any way they can, but after the fighter he was supposed to have a bout with becomes ill and pulls out the only person on the roster is someone who is 20lbs heavier than Micky, but his brother and mother convince him to fight, because his opponent has been out of the sport for a while and should be a walk over. This isn’t true and he ends up being beaten badly and after meeting a girl who he develops a relationship with he realises he needs to get away from his family and try and do things the right way. Which of course leads the family to blame his new girlfriend.
So that’s the main thrust of the story and where all the dramatic tension comes from. I have to say I kinda feel my initial impressions were right, it is a cliched story we’ve seen a million times. That’s not to say it isn’t a decent film, it is. There’s just a lot of predictable things happening there, and I have no doubt there’s a lot of artistic licence taken with the facts of the story.
When it comes to the acting you won’t be surprised there are some excellent turns by the cast. Mark Wahlberg puts in a strong performance, I quite like him as an actor anyway and don’t think he deserves the stick he gets. He plays the role very understated and that’s what the role needs. Christian Bale also plays the role of the junkie brother excellently and does deserve a lot of the praise being thrown his way. When it comes to everyone else, I have to say I’ve very rarely hated characters in a film as much as I hate much of the family in this film, so they must be playing it very well because we’re supposed to hate them, I feel, and I would happily see each of them killed.
So when it comes down to it, despite the praise heaped on the film I don’t think it’s as brilliant as all that. There are some strong performances and they make the most of the cliched material given to them, but I don’t think it quite overcomes that tired story that we all know the outcome of before even sitting down. Best seen without your expectations being set too high.