Hello to you, my avid fans. Today, I will be doing my first review of a movie. The movie in question is Southpaw the latest film from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forrest Whitaker, and Rachel McAdams. It is a boxing movie about a lightweight champion at the top of his game who, after a tragic event, spirals downward hitting absolute rock bottom, and must battle his way back to the top. If this sounds like a movie you have seen before…well…it is…unfortunately.
I went into this movie with low expectations after watching the trailer. Not only that but I haven’t really been a fan of the director’s past work. Training Day and King Arthur are about the only movies in the man’s resume that I enjoyed watching on some level. He seems to be one of these directors that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, playing it safe and banking on what has already been proven to work, and it shows here in this movie.
Another person I want to note is the writer, Kurt Sutter. You probably haven’t heard of this guy unless you watch television. This is Kurt’s first foray into movies. His television credits are for writing, producing, directing, and acting several episodes of The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, and the upcoming period drama The Bastard Executioner. Both Sutter and Fuqua mesh well here in this movie because, well they both exhibit the same style and tone as showcased in all of their previous work. While I have only seen a handful of episodes of The Shield and Sons of Anarchy, I hear how good the two shows are so I am disappointed that Sutter’s supposed skill doesn’t show up in the script. Perhaps he should stick to television.
If you haven’t guessed by this point I wasn’t at all thrilled with this movie. Southpaw suffers mainly because of the writing and directing. The movie feels like the studio threw money at these guys and said “make a boxing movie.” Well, that’s exactly what they did. They took everything that works well for a boxing movie and said “you’re welcome.” There in lies the problem. The movie is a tired retread of the same boxing formula and nothing new is brought to the table.
The performances are good, don’t get me wrong, but even their acting can’t pull this movie higher than what the movie has set out to be.
I had several issues with the movie, I won’t go into too much detail but just for safety sake there may be minor *SPOILERS* up ahead.
In the movie Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Billy, suffers a terrible tragedy and ends up losing all of his money, but it’s never quite explained how much time has passed or where all of the money is going. Its only implied that he is living a lavish lifestyle and in a month or so and he is already broke. Also, the police work following the tragedy is cliched and very groan worth, bad police work which leads to a “revenge” fight in the climax of the film. From here Billy makes all the wrong choices and loses custody of his daughter, the loss of his boxing license, his house, processions, and his promoter. In other words, he hits rock bottom.
We are then given the “hero must find a down and out trainer to build him back up.” Forest Whitaker is the trainer in question. However, he doesn’t train pro fighters, for reasons unkown, but for reasons unexplained he breaks this rule and ends up training him up to his comeback fight. During this time too we are introduced to a minor character, plot line, and subsequent off screen death that is supposed to bring more emotion to the already tragedy stricken plot. The problem is the character is on screen for so little time and so poorly built that I didn’t really feel anything for the character. Honestly, the movie would not have been affected if said character/plot was dropped. It only leads to a half assed speech and motivation for Billy and his trainer.
Also the entire movie’s timeline is not specifically stated but probably happens in a time frame of 6 months, maybe 8, but it’s definitely no where near a full year. I have a problem with this because I feel like there is no way in hell that everything in this movie would happen in that short amount of time. I am all for suspension of disbelief in movies, but this movie tries so much to root itself in reality that the viewer isn’t really allowed to suspend disbelief in the plot. There are other story threads and character development that make no sense as well, but that is probably best argued for another time.
At the end of the day, i give the move 2 out of 5
stars Knockouts. The acting and fight choreography was good, and Jake Gylenhaal is very hot without his shirt. If you are a die hard boxing movie fan you will enjoy the film. Me, on the other hand, I was hoping for something more.
P.S. I would like to formally ask Hollywood to create a boxing and/or mma movie where the characters aren’t stereotypical, incoherent, sub-par educated, d-bags…PLEASE!