The Fighter (2010)

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IMDb Rating
7.9 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

The Fighter, is a drama about boxer "Irish" Micky Ward's unlikely road to the world light welterweight title. His Rocky-like rise was shepherded by half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being KO'

  • Not Rated Yet
(Based on 4 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
115 Minutes
Biography, Drama, Sport
David O. Russell
Scott Silver

Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on December 15th, 2010

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As was the case with The Town, I'm sure I will end up in the minority on this one. Like The Town, The Fighter is a good movie, not a great one. The people involved in making The Fighter clearly intended it as Oscar bait, but it just doesn't quite come together. What we have is a movie with a compelling first act, a hurried second act and an unconvincing third act. And while there are moments of brilliance and affecting performances pop in and out, a cohesive movie never emerges.

The Fighter opens in Lowell, Mass. in 1993, as brothers Mickey Ward and Dicky Ecklund (Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, respectively) are being followed by an HBO camera crew. HBO, we learn, is making a documentary about former boxer Dicky's return to the sport after a 15-year absence. Mickey, his younger brother, is a boxer on the rise, though wallowing in undercard fights.

Dicky's claim to fame is a single moment in 1978, when he managed to knock down Sugar Ray Leonard. (Though they never say, it seems clear that Sugar Ray went on to trounce Dicky.) In the years since this achievement, Dicky has dissolved into a world of crack addiction. The Fighter's high points all involve Christian Bale's manic, spot-on performance as an innately charming man who, when under the influence (as he almost always is), is capable of doing or saying anything to get his way.

Mickey, meanwhile, struggles to find his footing as a boxer. Trained by Dicky and controlled by his disgusting mother (more on that later), his career is surrounded on all sides by people who may want the best for him, but have no idea how to go about delivering that. When Mickey starts dating a smart, strong bartender named Charlene (Amy Adams), his future as a boxer starts to become a little clearer.

And much more I shouldn't say. It's never obvious where The Fighter will go next - except in certain spots. Sadly, director David O. Russell seems to have taken some direction from the Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) book of filmmaking. He spoon-feeds us shocking developments where they aren't needed, and certain characters morph into grotesque caricatures.

There's a simplicity that Russell utilizes in dealing with Mickey's family that, more often than not, comes off as cheap and unappealing. No motivation is ever provided for the behavior of Mickey's mother and sisters, except the implied conceit that they are just dumb, controlling, mean-spirited people.

Where The Fighter succeeds is almost entirely in its central two performances, with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. Mickey so looks up to Dicky that, even as it becomes very clear that crack has taken over Dicky's life, Mickey still defers to him. It's a sweet twist that Dicky cares just as much for Mickey and very badly wants him to succeed. His limitations are merely chemical.

Some prudent editing and tweaking of tone could have made The Fighter something special, instead of what it is: a good movie. Nothing more, nothing less. - Three stars

User Reviews of The Fighter (4)

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baby i'll troll you said on Dec. 16, 2010 at 7:27pm

the rising action is perfect in this thing. you do realize that this is based on a true story, so i am not sure if you can watch this thing and then comment on it's 3 act plot structure as if it were a fictional narrative. in fact, if you are not moved by the hero - antihero tag team character arc, you just might be an alien from another planet. the resolution of the climax at the end of act two was a little telegraphing, but even when things got a little cringe worthy, the cheese factor during scenes was nicely forgiven with either humor, or in the case of the end of act two, a masterful piece of exposition with bale's character having one last taste of the 'crack addiction' symbolism by licking the icing off his thumb as the crack house disappears behind him as a thing now in his past. i for one shed fucking tears during the film and have not missed a day going to the gym since. ADRIAAAAN!!

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Rev. Adam McKinney said on Dec. 17, 2010 at 6:13pm


I do realize that it's based on a true story (the little bit of real footage at the end just made it clearer how good Bale was). The handy thing about adapting a real-life story is that you can smooth out the sloppy parts and make them more elegant. That didn't happen at certain important scenes. But I did like the movie, overall.


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baby i'll troll you said on Dec. 18, 2010 at 2:23pm

why can't you just admit that you cried dude? anyways, have you seen ENTER THE VOID? if not check it out

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Rev. Adam McKinney said on Dec. 18, 2010 at 7:24pm


Funny, I was talking to someone at the bar about "Enter the Void" not too long ago...


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