Is it just me or do a lot of the Oscar nominated films seem to be based on true stories this year? The Social Network, The King’s Speech and 127 Hours are all based on true stories. The Fighter tells us of the professional boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older brother Dickie Ecklund (Christian Bale). Ward is written with little depth, but the other characters show spirit, and the acting and story are put together well by director David O. Russell, making it one of the better boxing movies from the past decade.
The film sets out by following Micky and Dickie in their home town of Lowell, MA. Dickie is the pride of the town for his apparent win over Sugar Ray Leonard. Since then Dickie has become addicted to cocaine and HBO is making a documentary about the effects of drugs, while Dickie has the illusion that the video is about his comeback. Dickie has trained his younger brother Micky since they were kids and taught him everything he knows about boxing. Unfortunately, Micky has never made anything out of himself and is just a ‘stepping stone’ for other fighters.
Micky meets a bartender named Charlene (Amy Adams) who he begins to date, she tries to convince him to leave his family, consisting of his mother (Melissa Leo) and his large group of sisters who have some strange delusions about the family. Micky is torn but he eventually decides he has to make a shot at the title before he is too old. When he begins to win, he realizes he needs his brother who he left in Lowell, and who was arrested and incarcerated.
Director David O. Russell creates a strong atmosphere for the film, showing Ward’s rise to success and his struggle to get there. The film focuses more on the struggle, than the success, and this allows certain characters to be more in- depth and acted out, unfortunately Micky Ward is a flat character with little meaningful dialogue, but Mark Wahlberg does what he can with what he is given. There are other flaws in the story, such as Micky and Charlene’s relationship not making much sense. In real life I’m sure it worked, but the way they portray an on-off relationship which lasted months was not done very well.
The acting here is solid. Mark Wahlberg is pretty good, having come from Massachusetts as well he can do the accent. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams both deliver fantastic portrayals. Christian Bale is the best actor in this movie. He acts Dickie with an accent, different mannerisms and he discovers the different motivation that drives Dickie. He is great in the role, and it is different than any character we’ve seen in him to date.
Overall The Fighter is still one of the best boxing movies since Rocky, it has amazing acting in some characters, and the story is quite compelling as it’s about a well known name, particularly in Massachusetts, but its not about Ali or Tyson (not that Ali wasn’t a good movie) which makes it slightly more intriguing. I would definitely recommend this movie to fans that enjoy boxing films and other sports-related dramas.