Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Fighter: A Film Review..

The Fighter was nominated for numerous Academy Awards this past year (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor being four of the seven it was nominated for) and I can't think of a single one it deserved, though it went on to win both of the supporting acting categories.

I came in thinking I would really like the film--Boxing??  Cool...True story??  Cool...Boston (or nearby) based??  Cool...

Oh how I was surprised--particularly given the massive amounts of praise heaped upon it--Cover of Sports Illustrated which called it the best boxing film since Raging Bull.  And how bout Mr. Wahlberg himself saying that the boxing filmed in Raging Bull and Rocky wasn't realistic enough for him and that they went really over the top to get it right here...

I'll come right out and say that this film is an outright disaster.  I can't think of a single part of the film I really enjoyed.

Wahlberg's acting has always been subpar, consistently playing a one string monotone fiddle.  Give him some steroids and an AK-47 and Wahlberg could be the next Sylvester Stallone--and I'm talking the Rambo 3, plastic surgery, HGH Stallone, not the slightly more tolerable, late 70's, just out of pornos, Stallone.  The boxing sequences?  Truthfully, your average WWE match is more "realistic" than any of the pitty-pat sequences herein.

Christian Bale won an Academy Award for his supporting work here and also didn't deserve it.  There really isn't anything here (Bale plays a crack addict) that rises above an Afternoon Special on cable TV.  We've all seen crack addicts on the big and small screens and Bale doesn't come up with anything new or memorable.  Yup, he's a wacky junky...sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic, always looking out for himself--until that is, he goes to prison, sobers up, learns the importance of family and loyalty.

Cliche??  Yup, but so is the whole film.  Down on his luck boxer with overbearing family finds a good woman to set him straight and who, in turn, he rescues from being a bartender.  Boxer rises to prominence via hard work and learning to push aside the negative aspects of his family only to succeed at the highest level when those family members mend their ways and make peace with the Boxer.  Ho...hum...

And no, it doesn't matter that this is a true story.  Directer David O. Russell, who crafted Three Kings which I think is fantastic, might as well be asleep at the wheel here.  For the entire movie I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at his characters--it often felt like the director didn't know what he wanted his audience to do either--particularly when dealing with female characters.

So if you want to see another fine example of cliche American drivel being shoved down the movie viewers throat as being the most wondrous thing since sliced bread give it a try, just don't say I didn't tell you.

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