Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Directed by David O. Russell. 115 minutes. 14A
Mark Wahlberg looks like a fighter, doesn’t he? Maybe not a boxer, but more like he should be the champ of some secret fight club. But he’s a rapper turned model turned actor. Not so tough. And it’s a distracting reminder throughout The Fighter, one of the reasons this film is just good, no better.
It’s tough to judge a film already nominated for six Golden Globes and building Oscar buzz. You expect it to be amazing, or at least really good. And like I said, The Fighter is good. It’s the story of “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg), a welterweight boxer who wants to make it big, though is being held back by his washed-up, drug-addict, former boxer bro Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). The story is compelling enough, the cinematography is creative enough and the acting is just believable enough. This film doesn’t really fall short at much but it doesn’t “wow” at much either, save for two brilliant performances: Bale and Melissa Leo.
Leo, playing Micky and Dicky’s mother, is nagging and oblivious, trying to reinforce and destructive bond between brothers. She worries and smothers. Leo is so convincing that it’s easy to forget this isn’t a real person. Though even more captivating in this film is Bale. He’s energetic, dark and explosive; he’s almost scary.
What weighs this film down is lack of tension. It’s almost mandatory for sports flick. After a few stumbles at the start, Micky seems to be on a paved road to success, which may or may not be a depiction of the true story, but this is a film, we need more intensity. Maybe a little more darkness, a little more pain, or a little more agony could have given this film more texture. B