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The Fighter


Family is everything. Many people hold firm to this belief no matter the circumstances, but what happens when that family is dragging you down to the point of physical detriment. As Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) tries to hold tight to his close familial relationships, he has to make tough decisions regarding his career and personal well-being in The Fighter.

Grade:

Based on a true story, The Fighter covers “Irish” Micky Ward’s early training with his former boxing prodigy half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), and his arrogant, delusional manager mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo). The first half of the film focuses a bit more on Dicky training his brother while being followed by a HBO film crew for a documentary on his comeback, or so he thinks. The second half more closely follows Micky’s rise and his courtship with Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams) and changing relationships with his family.

The Fighter was marketed as a boxing film that packed a little more punch than your typical underdog story. This couldn’t be more of an understatement. There are numerous heavy themes going on that for much of the film make boxing only serve as the glue holding the family together. The Ward/Ecklund clan contains some serious issues that were not being dealt with. Most prominent of all being Dicky’s crack addiction and his mother turning a blind eye to the truth. Dicky and Alice constantly hold on to his one moment of glory from his fighting days – knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard – despite the fact that Micky is the fighter now with the best opportunity.

Wahlberg is subtly excellent playing the humble, meek Micky instead of his typical alpha-male bruiser. He and Amy Adams make a great pair and truly show how Micky and Charlene stay together after the film. The best aspect shown about Micky is his paralleled confidence growth inside and outside the ring. The more he loses, the less he opens up to his family and discusses how they are slowly killing his career, but once he makes some changes and wins some fights, he is able to stand up for himself more amongst his crazy family.

In typical Christian Bale fashion he loses a massive amount of weight to play the crack addicted Dicky, but does so – with the addition of a New England accent – perfectly. It is clear why he and Leo won the Oscars for supporting roles. The blind idolatry of Dicky (see: emotional scene in the car) for his relatively minor accomplishments taints Alice’s view of the rest of her children, never allowing them – especially Micky – to live up to her high expectations. This same worship prevents Micky, the younger of the two, from seeing his own potential and seizing any opportunities without having his unreliable brother at his side.

In many ways, the familial dynamic vastly overshadows the boxing aspects of the film, and rightfully so. Yet, this is not to say the boxing scenes aren’t full of tension and suspense with a well executed running commentary and a mix of some live footage. I would not recommend watching this right before sleep because by the end you are so full of energy and adrenaline you want to do something active. That being said, I strongly encourage viewing The Fighter – even if uninterested in boxing like yours truly. You will not be disappointed. It is simply a great film.

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  1. I wanted to run to the gym after seeing this in theaters.

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