Here’s my review of “The Fighter” from KTKA-49.
On one end of the boxing movie spectrum you’ve got “Rocky,” the story of the ultimate underdog who got a chance to prove himself. On the other end, you’ve got “Raging Bull,” a character study of a self-destructive champion.
With its portrait of a toxic family atmosphere and a boxer who perseveres despite some pretty stiff odds, David O. Russell’s “The Fighter”—based on a true story— is firmly planted somewhere in between those two movies.
Starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale as half brothers in working class Lowell, Massachusetts, “The Fighter” is impressive in the way it takes its time developing its characters before the boxing montages kick in.
Bale especially shines as a washed up, crack-addicted boxer who lives vicariously through his younger brother. He and Melissa Leo, who plays the deluded mother, are so over the top they almost veer into camp territory. Russell reins them in when he needs to, though, and considering the stakes at hand, their behavior isn’t impossible to swallow.
With energetic direction and heaps of mounting desperation, “The Fighter” packs a powerful punch. By the time it finally turns into a more typical boxing movie towards the end, it’s actually quite a welcome relief.