Southpaw

"OK"

Southpaw Review


Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's complete lack of originality keeps it from being something memorable. Centring on a committed performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, it's always watchable, but it's rather annoying that every time an interesting theme is raised the script sidesteps into yet another boxing-movie cliche.

Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope, an orphan raised in the system who rose to become the world light heavyweight champion. He has savvy wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) at his side, smart young daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) cheering him on and the fiercest manager (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson) in the business. But personal failures, unexpected tragedies and financial crises suddenly bring an end to his millionaire lifestyle, leaving him alone and wandering the New York streets in search of a place to live. He seeks help from grizzled gym owner Tick (Forest Whitaker), who helps Billy rebuild himself so he can take on his nemesis (Miguel Gomez).

Billy is such a hot-head that he's not easy to like, continually blowing his top to make everything much worse for himself and his family. Gyllenhaal is an astonishing mass of muscles, scars and tattoos, with a burning inner rage that's startlingly believable. He also works hard to earn the audience's sympathies, despite the blunt superficiality of Kurt Sutter's script. Whitaker's role is even less nuanced; he's little more than the formulaic gruff trainer who's always played by an ageing Oscar winner. McAdams injects some snappy energy in her too-brief role, and it's actually Laurence who emerges as the film's most resonant character, effortlessly stealing her scenes right out from under Gyllenhaal's smashed-in nose.

Clearly, director Anton Fuqua and screenwriter Sutter were much more interested in the standard gyrations of the boxing grudge match movie than the complex themes raised throughout the story. There are opportunities along the way for involving explorations of the dangers of fame, corruption in sport, grief and even a murder mystery, but the filmmakers simply ignore these issues to indulge in another banal plot point that we've seen hundreds of times before. There isn't a single moment in the film that's original or provocative. At least the boxing matches are shot with brutal energy, and even the requisite training montage is livened up by Eminem's edgy title track. And with Gyllenhaal's wrenching performance, the film is still worth a look. But he's the kind of actor who is great at digging beneath the surface of a character, and Fuqua never gives him a shot.

Watch the trailer for Southpaw here:



Southpaw

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 123 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th July 2015

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 8.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Jason Blumenthal, , Peter Riche, ,

Starring: as Billy Hope, as Maureen Hope, as Titus 'Tick' Wills, Oona Laurence as Leila Hope, as Angela Rivera, as Jordan Mains, as Alice, as Jon Jon

Contactmusic


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