|SOUTHPAW (director: Antoine Fuqua; screenwriter: Kurt Sutter; cinematographer: Mauro Fiore; editor: John Refoua; music: James Horner; cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Billy Hope), Forest Whitaker (Tick Willis), Naomie Harris (Angela Rivera), Curtis Jackson (Jordan Mains), Oona Laurence (Leila Hope), Skylan Books (Hoppy), Beau Knapp (Jon Jon), Rachel McAdams (Maureen Hope), Miguel Gomez (Miguel Escobar); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Rosenberg, Stuart Parr, David Schiff, Dylan Sellers, Ezra Swerdlow, Kurt Sutter, David Bloomfield, David Ranes, Gillian Zhao, Cary Cheng, Jonathan Garrison, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein; the Weinstein Company; 2015)|
|"A bland middling boxing drama."
by Dennis Schwartz
bland middling boxing drama that knocked me silly
with all its conventional blows. Director Antoine
Fuqua ("Shooter"/"Brooklyn's Finest"/"The
Equalizer") and writer Kurt Sutter fire away
with a barrage of boxing cliches until the movie
mercifully is over. It borrows its cliches from a
laundry list of illustrious boxing films such as Raging
Bull," "Body and Soul," "The Set-Up,” “Fat City,”
“Rocky,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Million Dollar
Baby,” and “The Champ”.
Gyllenhaal superbly plays Billy Hope, the
southpaw blue collar hero, who started out as an
orphan in the rough "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood of
Manhattan. He's the former light
heavyweight champ who is always sporting some
kind of body bruise. Now the Great White Hope,
the down-on-his-luck fighter, is struggling to make
his big comeback and regain his manhood. Because of
his history of beatings in the ring, his wife
Maureen (Rachel McAdams) urges him to quit the sport
and live happily ever after in their mansion. The
couple have a doting 11-year-old daughter,
Leila (Oona Laurence). But the boxer has a large
posse of hangers-on he listens to, who are his chorus
of yes men. There's also a new gritty solid
trainer (Forest Whitaker). Curtis
“50 Cent” Jackson plays one
of his shifty former managers.
pic becomes totally predictable and irritating when
the wife dumps the ex-champ, about 30 minutes into the
film, and thereby the boxer attempts his comeback, moves
on from seeking revenge to seeking redemption for his
violent past, and must prove to child services that he
has resolved his anger-management conflict before he
will be allowed custody of the child.
It's about as interesting as your average preliminary fight, except for a bulked up Gyllenhaal proving himself a compelling watch even while working with such a weak script.
REVIEWED ON 11/13/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ