The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Fighter | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Fighter

Directed by: David O Russell
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
There have been so many boxing movies down through the years that one wonders why a film-maker would possibly want to make another. What does this latest incarnation of cinematic pugilism have that the others didn't? Unfortunately zilch, nada, there's nothing original about Russell's film. So cliched is it that midway through I started to wonder if Russell was indeed parodying the genre and this was compounded when he actually employed the ultimate sports movie cliche. Yes folks, he ends the movies final fight with a freeze frame of Wahlberg, arms aloft in his moment of triumph.
Much has been spoken about Bales Oscar-nominated performance and he's the bookies favourite for Supporting Actor. He is indeed brilliant, it's his fidgety wide-eyed turn that keeps the movie on the right side of watchable. There's a line that actors can cross in these sorts of roles that puts them into comedy territory (see Eric Roberts in "Pope Of Greenwich Village"), but Bale manages to keep it just one notch below this. As someone who encounters drug addicts on a daily basis I can easily say this is the most realistic junkie I've ever seen on screen. It's fascinating to watch him hanging in the background of a scene, his reactions are almost like a dog, no real clue as to what's going on around him.
All these plaudits can equally be applied to the always great Melissa Leo, here playing the tyrannical mother of Wahlberg and Bale. She's up for an Oscar too and it's great to see her career being revitalised. I always loved her in "Homicide: Life On The Street" but she seemed to disappear when that show finished. In the last few years she's made a comeback with some great performances and I for one will be rooting for her come Oscar night.
The problem is if you remove these two performances you're just not left with much. Russell really gives us nothing we haven't seen before and he owes his cast bigtime.