By: Angelica Diaz, Staff Reporter
Based on a true story, The Fighter stars Mark Wahlberg as boxing champion Micky Ward. Ward is a soft-spoken and almost mousy boxer trying to make a name for himself. Instead, he often winds up losing fights and nursing severe wounds. Each blow to his face is another step backward, another shot to his ego, and another freefall into the shadow of his trainer and older brother Dicky (Christian Bale). In his prime, Dicky went toe-to-toe with the great Sugar Ray Leonard. Now he passes his time in a crack house trying to relive the glory days in a cheap, drug-induced stupor.
Meanwhile, Micky’s manager and mother Alice (Melissa Leo) sits in her kitchen arranging fights. Surrounded by her seven whiny daughters and five packs of cigarettes, Alice manages her son’s career straight into the ground. Leo has received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of this manipulative, greedy woman.
Dicky has inherited his mother’s ability to turn a blind eye, and the two fuel each other’s unrealistic dreams of reviving Dicky’s career. On some level they know Dicky never was and never will be a world champion. Unfortunately, they use this as an excuse to live vicariously through Micky. With family members like these, who needs enemies? Micky stands a better chance against Mike Tyson.
Micky’s loyalty stops him from confronting his family, but he finds his strength in Charlene (Amy Adams) the barmaid. She harshly shoves the truth into his face, just as director David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees) shoves the audience into this gritty, realistic motion picture. Ultimately, Micky is given a chance to train and fight professionally, and Charlene reminds him that he must choose: family or boxing, his brother or himself.
Wahlberg gives a convincing performance as the seemingly submissive yet very determined Ward. It can be both beautifully sad and painful to watch as he wrestles with his devotion to family and his passion for boxing. However, the character is not developed enough to make audiences want to root for him during the matches. But these scenes are few, and the story almost becomes an addicting reality show; after a while you care more about the family drama rather than the up-and-coming boxing career.
The film is supposed to be about Micky Ward, but Christian Bale’s flawless performance steals the show. Everything from his mannerisms to his speech patterns to his eye movement—Bale has become Dicky in every way, and he has received a well-deserved Oscar nomination as a result.
The film has also received nominations in the categories of best picture, best screenplay, and best director. Overall, Russell has directed a thrilling film with genuine characters. The film is worth seeing while it is still in theatres, especially for Bale’s performance.