THE FIGHTER Review

This is simply put: an amazing film. I loved it. Every minute of it. Going into 'The Fighter' I expected a rousing story and a great performance by both Wahlberg and Bale. Mark Wahlberg has been trying to get this film made for years and in more ways than one this feels like his film. Wahlberg plays real life boxer Micky Ward who was seen as nothing more than a stepping stone, but rose to win the welterweight title in the mid-80's.

For his entire life Micky's trainer has been his older brother Dicky who had his fifteen minutes of fame when he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard but has since succumbed to a life of crack and crime. The chemistry between Wahlberg and Bale is palpable. From the opening credits sequence where we see the two of them walking through the streets of their hometown it is clear both actors have transformed themselves into these brothers, friends and co-workers that have nothing but a sport to define their lives. Bale, who is known for his deep commitment to roles looks especially fragile here as the drugged out Dicky. He is a pure caricature and he drives the tension and drama of the film. Bale gives an outstanding performance, but to be honest it is a bit showy. It will no doubt garner much acclaim and as it is certainly deserved I must say I found Wahlbergs performance to be even more stunning. It feels more raw, more real and as his counter part Amy Adams is just as outstanding.

They both convey the truth of the situation and the realizations of what need to be done if Micky is to truly make a run for what everyone around him seems to know is a real possibility. To continue with the discussion of great performances in this film we must of course talk about Melissa Leo, as the patriarch of this highly dysfunctional family she has managed her sons careers and always played favorites. She has raised her numerous daughters to think and act in the same ways as she. She is a good meaning mother, but never selfless enough for us to buy her as a good person. She tries, but she is too concerned with things completely irrelevant to the present situation. This leads us to the aspect of this film that I thought made it rise above a general sports film.

It does take many of its cues from the genres greats, but I don't feel you could compare it to the Rocky's, or 'Raging Bull or even 'Million Dollar Baby'. 'The Fighter' is an entertaining and moving film because as much as it is about the battles within the ring it is more focused on those outside of it. Mainly concerning family. The family dynamics of 'The Fighter' don't hold any punches, they are what make it universal and so damn appealing. Not only between the two leads, but between Adam's Charlene and Micky's family, between Micky's mother and father and Dicky's odd relationship with his sisters, his son and his mother.

It is all fascinating and though it may not be as artsy a movie as the academy might like to reward this truly deserves some recognition, it is simply entertaining and uplifting, it relates the emotions of those on screen so strongly. I was amazed how much I came out loving the film and it will definitely be near the top of my favorites list for this year.