Monday, July 27, 2015
This is a pretty straightforward sports movie that doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table, but what Southpaw lacks in originality, it makes up for in rhythm and fortitude. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with this movie, but that's exactly what happened here. It's a lot more raw and emotional than one would expect.
Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) seemingly has it all with an impressive career, a beautiful and loving wife (Rachel McAdams), an adorable daughter (Oona Laurence - who is unbelievably magnificent in this film, btw) and a lavish lifestyle. When tragedy strikes and his lifelong manager and friend (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) leaves him behind, Hope hits rock bottom and turns to an unlikely savior at a run-down local gym: Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), a retired fighter and trainer to the city's toughest amateur boxers. With his future riding on Tick's guidance, Billy enters the hardest battle of his life as he struggles with redemption and to win back the trust of those he loves.
I always liked Gyllehaal, but I was never a huge fan until this movie. He completely blew me away with his edgy, heart-wrenching performance. While watching the film I never really saw him, but rather his character - a true sign of a great method actor. Southpaw is basically a story of a modern day tragic hero who rises from the ashes and fights his way back to his daughter and proves he can be the man his late wife envisioned and hoped for. Now that's not to say the film is a bit predictable and features a slew of cliches, which can't be helped in this genre, unfortunately. However, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) does a decent job making sure the film stays edgy enough to compensate. I will say though, I would have liked a little more character development between Billy Hope and Tick Willis, but that's minor.
All in all this Summer Blockbuster packs one satisfying, powerful punch both inside the ring and out, and will resonate even with non-boxing fans. It has stellar performances by the entire A-list cast - that scene when Billy Hope is holding his wife Maureen in the hotel lobby is truly Oscar winning remarkable. Southpaw is simply a fun, entertaining and exhilarating summer ride.
What's your take?