The Fighter

Directed By: David O. Russell

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams

It's hard to beat a good sports flick.  There's something about the physicality and intensity of athletic competition on the big screen.  A great sports flick can get you up and shouting just as much as any game or fight could on a Saturday night with the boys and some brewskies.  In the film The Fighter, director David O. Russell brings to life the story of Mickey Ward and his quest to make a name for himself in the world of boxing.

Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a welterweight boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts who is regarded by the boxing community as a stepping stone.  Trained by his brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) and managed by his mother Alice (Melissa Leo), Mickey's career is going nowhere.  When his father George (Jack McGee) introduces him to Charlene (Amy Adams), things begin to change for him.  The two quickly get romantically involved, and she shows Mickey that his mother doesn't always know what's best for him.  As he tries to make a name for himself, Mickey must distance himself from his family and their foolishness.

Mark Wahlberg hasn't had a film this great since The Departed.  He really picked the right role in this one.  He's proven himself a badass in every way except in the ring at this point.  This was a natural career move for him.  I applaud this decision because he's thoroughly entertaining as Mickey Ward.

Though Wahlberg shines in The Fighter, the supporting actors get their due as well.  Christian Bale, also known as the Dark Knight, once again shows moviegoers that he is a world-class actor.  His portrayal of Dicky Ecklund evokes so many emotions throughout the film.  You'll laugh at this fool when he jumps out of a window but hate him for what he does to Mickey.

Melissa Leo is perfect to play Alice Ward.  She's crazy.  She's annoying.  She's hilarious.  She's everything an overprotective, manipulative mother should be.  She adds some serious value to the movie.  She lives in the past just as much as her crackhead son, and it's fun to watch.  She steals quite a few scenes throughout the film.

Up to this point, Amy Adams has not shown us that she could handle a grittier, sassier role.  Having been in films like Doubt, Julie & Julia, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, she has only built a soft, fragile persona on screen thus far.  Well she takes the gloves off as Charlene in The Fighter.  In this flick, she's a feisty bartender who's not taking any crap from anybody, and we love her for it. 

While I've been focusing on the stars of the film, I haven't forgotten about the mastermind behind this rousing film, director David O. Russell.  Aside from awesome filmmaking all around, there are two things I really love about the way Russell made this movie.  First, the cinematography for the fight scenes was brilliant.  The decision to mimic the look and feel of an actual televised fight was the best choice they could have made.  Second, the musical choices for the soundtrack were on point.  They gave the film the right old school feel.

The Fighter is what a boxing movie can be at its best.  It's a damn good movie.  This awe-inspiring sports flick gets a sober rating.  Since it is a boxing movie though, I see no harm in you having a beer or two while watching the film.