Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fighter

About a little over a year and a half ago, my friend Matt and I made this awful sort of dual challenge to make each watch movies we both detest. Matt knew I did not mind the first Transformers film, but loathed the sequel so much that I boycotted the third film. I knew Matt absolutely hates Mark Wahlberg AND sports movies. So we ended up compromising to where I would agree to watch all three Transformers movies, and the three Mark Wahlberg films I picked out for him to watch were Ted, Invincible and finishing it off with the movie I am blogging about today, The Fighter (trailer).

It took us nearly two years to finish this because we kept delaying our inevitable suffering, but last week we finally finished this challenge when I dug The Fighter out of my movie backlog box. I actually think Matt ended up not minding all three awesome Wahlberg films I picked out, but it was stomach wrenching to suffer through the second Transformers all over again, but boy was I in for a deal of hurt because somehow, someway Dark of the Moon managed to be even worse. If you have still managed to boycott the last two Transformers films, I will spare you the agony and encourage you to check out the following two clips which consist of the only entertaining 17 seconds out of Revenge of the Fallen and well, I searched and could not find the clip on youtube, but rest assured there is about another clip of equal length that was the only thing that got a mild chuckle out of me for Dark of the Moon.

Awesome preface out of the way, now onto The Fighter! This is based on the true story of the boxing brothers, Mickey & Dickey Ecklund, circa 1992. Dickey (Christian Bale) is a crack addict, clinching onto his only claim to fame in the ring of knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard and making sure everyone in their hometown of Lowell hears about it! He has an HBO film crew following him and his brother Mickey (Mark Wahlberg) around, who is preparing for his next fight while Dickey thinks he has a comeback in him. Mickey trains with Dickey, and is managed by his feisty mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), who is constantly marched around with her entourage of several intimidating daughters. When Mickey's new girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) has Mickey realize his family is sending his career down the gutter, it forces Mickey to make some now or never decisions to get his career on the right path to chase that championship gold his brother could never taste.

First thing I have to say is man, did they nail the casting for this film. It may appear a little odd on paper to have Hollwood mega star Christian Bale play support to Mark Wahlberg, but Bale masterfully plays the crack addict, while Mark does his thing as the calmer, more laid back brother. I found it entertaining in the behind the scenes extra feature that Ecklund's real life family said Bale got Dickey's real life mannerisms and idiosyncrasies down to a T that upon glancing at Bale from a distance on the set that they would constantly mix Bale up for the real Dickey! Bale definitely earned his best supporting actor Oscar award here! As did Melissa Leo for her portrayal of the hard nosed mom, Alice. Amy Adams and Wahlberg unfortunately did not win Oscars, but Amy got nominated for one, and Mark got a Golden Globe nomination too.

This film is perfectly paced and never lingers at any scene. I love how the story unfolds as Mickey realizes his family is doing his career no good, and he comes to grip with the tough choices he has to make to finally get his life on track. The same goes for the character of Dickey too as he finally has to pay the piper for his demons, while he and Alice constantly try to get Mickey to remain loyal to the family. This was the first film I can recall being exposed to Amy Adams, who has since become my favorite actress after first seeing her in this and other standout roles since like Trouble With the Curve, Man of Steel and American Hustle. I am also a fan of how this film borrows a page out of Rocky Balboa and went with authentic HBO quality cameras for the cinematography of the fight scenes. It went a long way to get the most out of the final fight scene.

There is a decent smattering of extra features here. First is 17 minutes of deleted scenes, which I highly recommend watching with director's commentary where director David Russell only has a few brief, not-so-insightful comments on a handful of scenes that are amusingly blunt like, "Yeah, this went too long." David Russell also provides a solo commentary track which I checked out during the final scenes, and it is too bad he could not get any of the cast and crew with him to bounce thoughts off of because he does not have too much to say for the briefs parts I observed. There is two behind the scenes features I both highly recommend checking out. One is a brief, eight minute series of interviews with the real life family and friends of the Ecklund family, and the other is a half hour making of titled Warrior's Code which covers a lot of ground. It is here I found out this film was Wahlberg's passion project and it took him a few years to get this movie green lit. There are a bunch of the other really fascinating behind the scenes tidbits here I do not want to spoil so definitely make sure to watch it!

The Fighter ranked among my favorites of 2010. I am usually a pretty big Mark Wahlberg fan, but as much as I hate to admit it he has been in kind of a slump these last several years, with his only standout performances during this time occurring in Ted and The Fighter in my opinion, and I do not like what the future has in store for him either. Imagine the irony to Matt and I when we found out midway through our movie challenge that Mark Wahlberg is the new lead starring protagonist in the fourth Transformers movie coming out this summer. We got ourselves to blame for that one!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

21 Jump Street
Captain America: The First Avenger

No comments:

Post a Comment