Maybe if I hadn’t seen ‘The Fighter’ a few years ago I would have liked Southpaw more. Maybe not. ‘The Fighter’ had an original and unpredictable story with vivid storytelling and raw and real characters. In ‘Southpaw’ Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed his body into a boxer and gives an extremely strong performance. His daughter in the film has a great screen presence as well. However, most of the rest of the movie is cliched and fails to generate any real conflict, tension or energy.
Southpaw features Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope, a fighter that loses it all and has to make it back to the top. What the movie doesn’t really do much of is show you how he got to the top in the first place. After his life falls apart, the always great Forest Whitaker is brought in to play his trainer but the easy nature of their relationship and the way the training goes so well without a hitch gives Whitaker nothing interesting to do. It’s nice to see such a harmonious relationship but barely any dynamic is developed.
The heart of the film is how Billy’s daughter goes from looking up to him to being disgusted with him and how he has to win her back. There is also a nice dynamic that exists between him and both his wife and his daughter. The problem with the climax of the movie besides being totally predictable is that the comeback doesn’t really feel that hard fought or difficult and does he really have to win a boxing match to regain his daughters respect back? Getting his life back together and stopping his bad behavior should have been enough for that. In the original ‘Rocky’ he doesn’t win the fight but he wins in life. This film behaves like in order to win in life he has to win the fight.
In conclusion, there are definitely elements of this film that are worth watching and it is very well made but I was left disappointed by its lack of originality or intensity that you will find if you watch 2010’s ‘The Fighter’
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