Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence
Plot: A champion boxer fights to get his daughter back from child protective services as well as revive his professional career, after a fatal incident sends him on a rampant path of destruction.
Running Time: 124 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 60% Audience 75%
Why I watched it: Gyllenhaal, for my money right now he’s the best actor working.
Thoughts: Maybe Romantic Comedies are more formulaic but sport movies are close, call them cliches or troupes but sport movies have a rhythm all their own and when they work they’re like a warm blanket.
I also want to talk about Jake Gyllenhaal, when I say he’s the best actor working today I don’t say that lightly, for me he becomes the role and he doesn’t have a stock role where you say “oh he’s just playing the same guy again.” He changes in every movie, which all actors should do.
What I liked: Goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway it’s Gyllenhaal, he’s the best thing in this movie, it’s a very good performance. He has a huge arc and he also has to change to keep his family and livelihood. He also has to do something very tricky for actors, well two things, he plays a guy who doesn’t talk a lot and isn’t school smart, I don’t want to say dumb cause he isn’t, but he is use to someone else making the big decisions for him. Most actors would go broad or over the top but Gyllenhaal grounds his performance, he’s never a cartoon or a cliche. I also what to give props to Forest Whitaker, this role is as old as movies, the trainer/coach.
He also goes about it different, he’s not loud, he’s not preachy, he seems tired, world weary, also a guy who doesn’t talk about his feelings but shows by his actions, this was also a nice performance and the two actors fed off each other well. Rachel McAdams was good and I wished she was in it more, I would have liked to see this marriage and partnership more. The boxing scenes were fine, not terrible but solid enough, everyone looked like they were in shape and you believed them to be athletes.
What I didn’t like: This was very cookie cutter as far as the formula goes, and also the speed his life goes from great to terrible happens very quick. To go through courts to have your stuff taken your daughter taken that takes time, this happens as quick as I’ve ever seen from penthouse to outhouse. Also the handling of the daughter, when he goes to see her, man that doesn’t feel real, I’ve gone through a separation and had to see my kids kind of liked that and by they Hollywooded up big time.
Those moments are two big and really is a discount to the rest of the film, the daughter seems like a plot point more than anything else, here she’s mean, and of course she screams she wished he was dead, really over all these years we still go back to that, and no a child wouldn’t be able to pitch that big of a fit, she would have been brought a side to calm down. I wished they would have played the father+Daughter scenes better, more real emotions and less melodrama.
The also wasted Naomie Harris, I have no idea why she was in this movie. I also would like to point out that the main plot is someone gets killed, now amazingly, we never deal with that legally, sure their quick to take his home away but shouldn’t there have been an investigation, by just sweeping that whole thing under the rug they made it seem like a plot point and something that made the movie happen.
Final thoughts: For the most part I liked the film, the performances for me is why I would recommend it. I wish director Antoine Fuqua matched his performance behind the camera to that of Gyllenhaal did in front of it.