The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter charts the rise of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg)  in the wake of his brother Dickie’s (Christian Bale) fall. Taken advantage of by his family’s imposing matriarch (Melissa Leo), Mickie is given the opportunity to put his recent string of failures behind him and start afresh with a new manager and a girlfriend (Amy Adams) who actually cares about him. As Dickie once again finds himself in jail, apparently betrayed by a documentary that exposed his drug addiction instead of charting his comeback (what a douche), all is looking rosy until real life gets in the way and mother dearest returns to lay down the law.

There is no way of saying this without coming across in a poor light, I didn’t like  The Fighter and I can’t for the life of me peg it down to a single rational reason; leaving me with little choice but to rant away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some cheese-loving simpleton who eats Cookie Dough ice cream who needs his movies to end happily, comprise fart-joke after fart-joke or erupt into song on an improbable number of occasions. I do, however, require enjoyment from cinema in order to sing its praises and I definitely wasn’t entertained by The Fighter. In all honesty, I think I would have attained more enjoyment from an actual boxing match – and I hate boxing.

The Fighter is an absolutely joyless affair, but as it is based on a true story, it is impossible to blame the film’s lacklustre plotting. Centring on a series of thoroughly unsympathetic characters – including, but by no means limited to, the worlds worst mother and her drug addict, larger than life son – and sidelining any actual boxing for the decidedly anticlimatic finale, The Fighter has clearly set out to be more than your average sports movie.

Just as well, I suppose. While I understand that some people may gauge thrills from watching others kick a ball, throw a javelin or thump someone else, I really am not one of them. All due respect to someone at the height of their physical prowess, undeniably skilled and mercilessly trained. My sympathies end, however, with the overweight supported shouting insults at his TV in ‘support’ of the action or the endless tagger-ons providing needless commentary or, worse, taking advantage of their talented charge. The Fighter follows a town besotted with its resident boxers and the dysfunctional family of half-wits dedicated to exploiting their sons while the daughters and matriarch form a harem of she-vultures.

Boasting every element of the general coming of age movie, in which a small town nobody overcomes overwhelming odds to escape his humble, but limiting, beginnings, The Fighter is a cuckoo egg, hidden in the midst of a genre to which it doesn’t belong. Real life provides no such luxury, as the dénouement struggles under the weight of reality and its inherent disappointment, unfulfilling entirely. By film’s end I was more than  happy to watch Christian Bale’s Dicky Eklund rot in prison and Mark Wahlberg’s Micky ‘betray’ his poisonous family and sign the deal with that nice chap from Las Vegas. Instead, I had to watch the characters reconvene as if nothing had happened, safe in the knowledge that in the final five minutes, nobody had tacken crack or acted like a total bastard.

So, whereas other sports movies end with the underdog triumphing over some thuggish opponent, The Fighter ends with the stoic calm at the centre of a desperately unlikeable storm beating the crap out of some random with little relevance to all that came before. Choosing to focus on life outside of the ring, The Fighter begs to end with Wahlberg flooring his irksome and washed up brother and giving his bitch-mother the finger, but instead denies the audience the satisfaction as he instead decides that family is more important than his future. Is this departure from convention really all that makes The Fighter Oscar worthy? Sure it’s based on a true story but why is this particular story so worthy of my time, sure the parts are well portrayed but it only makes me dislike the characters more, there innumerable movies released this year and a considerable multitude of them were better than this one.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to The Fighter (2010)

  1. Pingback: February 2011 – Do you know the “f” word? « popcornaddict

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