"Fighting Back from the Brink"
What You Need To Know:
THE FIGHTER tells a rousing story, but some of its depictions seem unintentionally funny and awkward. The three leads ultimately deliver powerful performances, with Amy Adams particularly noble and touching in her role as the woman who helps Mickey open his eyes to the way his life really is and what it can become. However, Christian Bale’s performance as Dicky is a bit over-the-top in the beginning. THE FIGHTER reminds viewers of the importance of family and of the powerful transformation we can achieve when we accept we need the help of God and those around us. Extreme caution is advised, however, because of much foul language, some intense boxing scenes, drug references, strong alcohol use, criminal activity, and a passionate scene with brief partial nudity.
(Pa, CC, BB, RoRo, LLL, VV, S, NN, AA, DD, MMM) Lightly mixed or pagan worldview with strong Christian, moral elements where main character’s troubled brother drops to his knees in prayer and total submission (silent, but looking up to Heaven) when he realizes how wretched his life has become, and sets out to redeem himself and be a better person, which he works hard to accomplish, but also with strong Romantic elements of people trapped in a dark world or society trying to rise above it and pursue their dreams; at least 35 obscenities and profanities, where, although it may feel accurate to the hardscrabble South Boston world of mostly uneducated people in which the movie is set, the two lead characters with more class and ambition are clearly shown looking with disapproval and frustration at those around them who only rely on such lazy language; some strong and intense boxing scenes, especially in the final match; passionate; partial upper female nudity while woman wears revealing lingerie and upper male nudity; strong alcohol use, including lead female character is a bartender; smoking and protagonist’s half brother is a crack addict but he breaks his habit with apparent help from God; strong miscellaneous immorality, as protagonist’s half-brother and his drug-addict friends are seen as petty criminals who express themselves mostly by swearing at each other, man lies to police, man resists arrest, and man brags about his criminal exploits before he breaks down and seeks redemption.
THE FIGHTER tells the true-life story of boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) and his troubled, drug-addicted half-brother Dicky Eklund (played by Christian Bale). Dicky struggles to break a crack addiction and earn back the trust of Ward to become his main trainer.
The movie also follows Mickey’s relationship with a female bartender named Charlene played by Amy Adams. Charlene is one of the fortunate few in their tough South Boston neighborhood to have attended college, although she partied her way back out of school years ago without graduating. She and Mickey are both sensitive souls who feel trapped by the coarser people around them, and the screen couple are highly affecting as they learn to stand up for their inherent dignity and dreams and assert themselves in a positive manner to break the influence of their destructive surroundings.
Dicky had been a hot boxing prospect himself years before, but a fierce addiction to crack torpedoed his career. He lives his life irresponsibly chasing the next high and skipping all responsibilities to those around him. Then, an HBO documentary about him airs while he’s in prison and forces him to see himself through more realistic eyes, including the eyes of outsiders. Dicky drops to his knees in humble desperation and vows to get his life together, leading to a powerful reconciliation with Mickey and the continued development of Mickey and Charlene’s relationship.
THE FIGHTER wants to be a rousing story about a boxer defying all sorts of physical, emotional and financial setbacks to become a winner, and it succeeds by the end on most levels. Its closing fight footage is particularly striking and overcomes too-tame ring footage earlier. Where the movie goes wrong early on is in its relentlessly unflattering depiction of Mickey and Dicky’s family, portraying them as hideous “white trash” who can barely string a sentence together. Perhaps this is an accurate depiction of South Boston residents and their family. However, it rings false by trying too hard and seeming almost comedic at times when it isn’t trying to be.
Also, Bale, Wahlberg and Adams deliver powerful performances, with Adams particularly noble and touching in her role as the woman who helps Mickey open his eyes to the way his life really is and what it can become. Even so, Bale’s performance in the first half, while his character is a drug addict, is almost too cocky and cartoonish. When he seeks redemption and cleans his life up, however, his performance also soars into greatness.
Ultimately, the movie strongly shows troubled people who came to realize they wanted more out of life and worked hard to achieve it. THE FIGHTER reminds us all of the importance of family and of the powerful transformation we can all achieve when we accept that we need the help of God and those around us.
Extreme caution is advised, however, because of much foul language, some intense boxing scenes, drug references, and a passionate scene involve brief partial nudity.