Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Directed By: David O. Russell
Before I dig into the hype and nostalgia that goes with TRON: Legacy, I'd like to distance myself first and talk about the other movie around the corner... the one that's bound to be the "underdog hit" of 2010. I say this not because a lot of people are talking about it; I say it because I literally enjoyed the heck out of this movie, and it wasn't just the action and presentation. Oh no, David O. Russell's "The Fighter" was a dramatic tale that was both brilliant and satisfying, based on a true story that follows two brothers' sworn dedication to boxing and the ring that takes them on an unprecedented journey of courage, sacrifice, and determination to overcome all odds and emerge victorious in the end. Naturally, it is that kind of setting that you see in every dramatization of a story inspired by real life events, but this one has heart and emotion all over it - the kind that is well meaning and supplemented by brilliant acting courtesy of A-List talent that cannot be underestimated by the audience.
Headlining the cast is Mark Wahlberg, who plays real life boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, who helms from Lowell, Massachusetts. As a welterweight trying to fight his way to the top, Micky looks up to his older half-brother, Dickie Eklund (played by Christian Bale), who was once a top fighter himself until a loss to Sugar Ray Leonard led him down the path of crack addiction. Since then, the brothers have been trying to pick up the pieces, and it is not until Dickie's arrest that something changes and causes the siblings to make a difference in their lives. Like the story of Rocky Balboa, Micky decides to take matters into his hands and rise to the top, paralleling Dickie's renewed determination to beat his crack addiction after witnessing the devastating consequences that seriously affect his name and his family's. Overcoming all odds and with the help of those important to their lives, Dickie and Micky fight their individual battles together not just for honor and glory, but for personal redemption as well.
Anyone who enjoys the sport of Boxing or the Rocky movies will definitely enjoy "The Fighter", but that shouldn't be the basis for marching on to theaters and seeing this film. The performance and casting choices are top of the line here, and it makes the movie so grounded as well as entertaining to watch with all the realism and simplicity one can easily relate to. Christian Bale alone steals the show portraying Dickie Eklund. His acting is no mere feat of simply losing weight and acting all hokey-pokey to play a crack addict... he WAS literally on the mindset of a crack addict, and it took time for me to realize that this was the same actor who made his name as Batman in the Christopher Nolan films. Bale's performance was the highlight for me in this flick, and I think it's well deserving he got a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Supporting Role" for this role. Speaking of nominations, The Fighter has generated five other nominations, including Best Actor in a Drama, Best Director, 2 counts of Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture. Of course, the first is due to the fantastic performance of Mark Wahlberg, who chose a great role and movie to work on and dedicate himself to. He apparently worked on his Boxer physique for a total of four years under the supervision and training of Freddie Roach, as well as modern boxing legend and champion Manny Pacquaio. Quite a feat, and one that deserves the utmost respect from audiences and viewers. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, who also get nominations for their roles as Micky's girlfriend Charlene Fleming and mother Alice Eklund respectively, outdo their performances in this film as well. They add the drama, romantic, and tension element to the roles Bale and Marky Mark portray, so summing all of this up makes a good argument why this film gets the big nomination for "Best Picture".
Overall, nominations and awards aside, I'd definitely vouch for The Fighter if one is looking for the "inspiring realistic film" that promises to leave a message or life lesson learned come the film's end. The movie had superb talent, but it would have all gone to waste without great storytelling complimenting it as well. Before or after you see TRON: Legacy in theaters for fantastic adventure and special effects, you should definitely check this one out. It would be a waste to end 2010 without seeing it.
Rating - 5/5