***** out of 5(Note: Having already done my Best Of List I will simply say this film belongs somewhere in the top 10)
The Fighter (2010)
Director - David O. Russell
115 min; R
Mark Walberg - Micky Ward
Christian Bale - Dicky Eklund
Amy Adams - Charlene
Melissa Leo - Alice Ward
The Fighter, based on the true story of Miky Ward and his half brother Dicky Eklund, does two things which help it rise above a merely average film and into a better than average film, and without both of them I'm not sure this film would succeed as it does.
1: Mark Walberg is not really the star. He is not really the focus of the film. With that in mind, his speaking parts are actually quite limited, a good thing for Mark Walberg as a leading man. Letting his actions and mannerisms speak for themselves serve him much better than trying to read a two page scene.
2: The film does not try to overdo fight scenes, which usually leads to everyone questioning the realism of those scenes which ultimately detracts from the film. This film never really asks us to believe we are watching top quality boxing matches, it simply asks us to believe that the scenes we do watch are, well, believable.
The film is carried by the performance of Christian Bale, as the half brother Dickey to Mark Walberg's Micky Ward, the two siblings from lower class Lowell, MA are boxers. Well, Dickey was a boxer who once went toe-to-toe with Sugar Ray and knocked him down, or perhaps he stumbled to the mat, no matter. Now he is a junkie and HBO is doing a documentary on him in his home town. He's so strung out he never even grasps the reality of the addiction show they are making it out to be. So what? Well, he is also training Micky, and along with his mother Alice (Melissa Leo) they hold total control over him. They are family, but we never really fully grasp the reasons for all the love from Micky. He simply states they are his family.
When Micky begins a relationship with tough talking Charlene (Amy Adams) things change. The film becomes a struggle for Micky to choose what is best for him, which may not include the family he has always relied on, for better or worse. Based on a true story the film is a very good one but falls a little short on the emotional connection you get from, say, Rocky, but I freely admit I went into this with some preconceived notions of what I was going to get from Walberg and Bale, so maybe I'm being a little harsh when I say that it was entertaining enough, but nothing about this film ever really made me think I was watching anything too special.