“The Fighter” tells the story of the now-famous boxer “Irish” Micky Ward as he perseveres through various personal and professional hardships to make it to the top of the boxing world.
But make no mistake, “The Fighter” isn’t a movie about boxing, and if it was, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. “The Fighter” is a far more universal story about a man trying to have it all, and as it quickly becomes apparent to viewers, Ward is a long way from that goal. The journey that takes him there is far from easy, but incredibly fun to watch.
“The Fighter” is set in Lowell, Mass., and in the first five minutes of the film, the small town absolutely comes to life.
Micky Ward and his eccentric brother Dicky Eklund walk the streets confidently, greeting slews of neighbors and townsmen as they’re followed around by a camera crew. But Micky’s family is far from your average suburban, nuclear family, and not just because they have about 10 too many daughters.
Micky’s mother Alice, in an Oscar-winning role by Melissa Leo, clearly picks favorites amongst her children, and Mickey is not it. Leo does a wonderful job as Alice Ward, playing a horrible mother who believably hasn’t the slightest idea just how awful a mother she really is.
Micky’s brother, Dicky, is quite clearly the favored son and is full of delusions of grandeur as he once bested Sugar Ray Leonard in the ring.
But despite Dicky and his mother’s delusions, his time as a boxer is over. In fact, not only is he no longer a legitimate fighter, he’s a crack addict.
Christian Bale’s Oscar-winning performance as Dicky Eklund is without a doubt the highlight of the film as his ridiculous, drug-induced antics serve as a catalyst for most of the stories momentum. But it’s not until the credits roll and footage of the actual Dicky Eklund comes on screen that viewers understand just how well Bale has played his roll.
But Melissa Leo and Christian Bale are also only the supporting cast. The film is about Micky Ward, and Mark Wahlberg has done an excellent job playing the only level-headed member of a family on the verge of self-destruction.
While Wahlberg didn’t win big for his lead performance, it’s his cool-headed protagonist that viewers are most able to identify with (unless you regularly spend your days shooting heroine and jumping into dumpsters from second-story windows so your mom doesn’t catch you).
It’s his quest for success that really lies at the heart of “The Fighter.” When Micky is in the ring, it’s easy to root for him; in fact it’s extremely difficult not too, and when he finds himself in between a brother, a mother and a girlfriend (Amy Adams) who all claim to know what’s best for him, Wahlberg navigates the rough domestic waters with acting chops that are just as impressive, though less showy, as Bale’s or Leo’s.
“The Fighter” is an excellent movie with an easy to love hero that you really want to see succeed and for only a dollar more than it would cost for you to sit at home and watch YouTube clips of Micky Ward kidney-thumping some poor sucker to the ground you can watch this terrific biopic at Cheap Seats this weekend.