Why is “The Fighter” not just another slums-to-success boxing movie? It’s based on a true story of boxer Micky Ward, a story that goes beyond the ring. With Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward and a supporting cast of Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, “The Fighter” has only the best in its corner.
The passion of “The Fighter” is not in the boxing scenes, but in the family battles. Micky has always been trained by his half-brother Dicky (Christian Bale), and managed by his mother Alice (Melissa Leo), but after meeting Charlene (Amy Adams), he gains respect for himself and realizes the bind his family has put him in. After a decision to deny any more help from his family, Micky has to find out how to manage the people in his life in order to get to the top, for himself, his family and for Lowell, Mass.
While this is obviously a character-driven film, if the boxing scenes had as much action as the family scenes, the film would be nearly flawless. Even in the big fight, the energy of Micky’s success is lacking. But, the fiery fists of Adams battling Leo’s stubbornness is hard to match.
The real Micky and Dicky were often on set for the film that was shot on location in Lowell. While they and other locals often watched the filming of the movie, it seems that these actors relied more on telling the truth of the story rather than simply imitating their real-life counterparts.
This is the grittiest we have seen usually sweet Amy Adams. She is a real-life, tough Massachusetts bartender with a fiery vocabulary and a temper to match.
Christian Bale is no stranger to big movies. From “American Psycho” to “The Dark Knight,” he continues to deliver a solid performance. His role as Dicky is no different, and probably one of his best. He’s funny and charming and brings you to the top with him, so when he falls, it hurts that much more.
Dicky was once known as “The Pride of Lowell” for his questionable knockdown of Sugar Ray Lewis. Since then, he has been engulfed in drugs and brings his family down with him. Micky tries to get a reputation while his brother Dicky is using his reputation to feed his crack addiction. Still, Micky trains his brother until he is arrested.
Leo plays the boys’ mother, Alice Ward, and she and Bale steal the show. While Leo is not a regular on the set of big budget films, she often outshines both her on-screen sons in this film. Leo balances compassion and greed. Even through her hair-spray, acrylic nails and cigarettes, she shows the slightest thread of matronly generosity throughout the film making Alice Ward’s possessiveness nearly justified.
With Micky’s family battling his girlfriend and his career, it’s hard to keep everyone with him and still have the effort to fight. He’s fighting for himself to be more than just a welterweight stepping stone and win the title. Not just the title of World Champion but the title of being more than Dicky’s little brother.
The actors in this film make this tale of triumph go from the streets to the screen in a real and inspiring way. Unfortunately, with this talented cast, Wahlberg is a stepping stone for his supporting actors. Still, there are certainly some well-deserved Oscar nominations ahead for “The Fighter.”Contact Katelan Cunningham.
This article has been revised Jan 10, 2011 to reflect the following changes:
Dicky was once known as “The Pride of Lowell” for his questionable knockdown of, not victory over of Sugar Ray Lewis.