Mark Wahlberg teams up once more with Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell to play real life boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. Before turning pro Micky struggled to live up to his potential while under the dubious guidance of his overbearing mother (Melissa Leo) and his brother Dick “Dicky” Eklund (Christian Bale), a former professional boxer and crack addict.
The excitingly edited and choreographed boxing is complemented by the film’s slick cinematography, which give the domestic scenes several energetic flourishes without compromising its gritty urban aesthetic. The battle for Micky’s heart and loyalty outside of the ring provides most of the drama with Micky’s new girlfriend (Amy Adams) attempting to pull him away from the manipulative control that Dicky and his mother have over him.
Situated somewhere between the crowd-pleasing melodrama of Rocky and the psychological character study of Raging Bull, The Fighter is an enjoyable underdog-triumphs-over-adversity story that demonstrates once again just how cinematic a sport boxing is. Adams is sensational in a tougher role than audiences are used to seeing her in while Wahlberg and Bale deliver their best performances in several years.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 372, 2011