THE FIGHTER: Christian Bale, Crack Pipes & Title Fights

Before he became the junior welterweight champion, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) had to fight his magnificently dysfunctional family. His mother and manager, Alice (Melissa Leo), seemed to only book him mismatched fights that led to an ass whooping. Dicky (Christian Bale), his half-brother and trainer, is a motor-mouthed crackhead who used to be the “pride of Lowell, MA.” Once upon a time he went toe-to-toe with Sugar Ray Leonard and managed to knock him down. Micky also has six sisters that echo his mother from the sidelines like an ugly and unwelcome Greek chorus. This is his family. When outside forces tell Micky that his family is holding him back and retarding his dreams, Micky’s only reply is “It’s my family!”

His attitude begins to change when he falls for a potty-mouthed barmaid named Charlene (Amy Adams) who suggests finding a new trainer; someone who isn’t high 24/7 and can actually spar. After about an hour of family infighting, actual training, and exceptional Boston accents, Micky gets his title shot. And the crowd rejoiced.

It’s the tried and true formula of an underdog boxing movie: the fighter has to overcome something out of the ring before he can dominate within it. David O. Russell‘s The Fighter, based on Ward’s true story, really never strays from this worn path, although there’s a few factors that keep it from feeling too played out. The acting is terrific across the board, except for Bale who is downright amazing. And the fights are shot like an actual televised event — ESPN style. They even used that specific film stock for the bouts.

I love Wahlberg and he’s great as Micky, but he takes a backseat to the other actors in The Fighter. Not because he puts in a sub-par performance, I just think that Micky was that kind of dude. He would stay quiet and do his best to shrug off his shitty family. Melissa Leo (Frozen River) turn out an intense performance as the territorial mother who doesn’t want some “slutty, MTV girl” moving in on her son. As said slut, Amy Adams busts out of the image I’ve had of her since Enchanted. She plays a hardboiled Boston chick with ease. But Bale. Whoa. He’s a chameleon once again and delivers the most moving junkie performance since Bubbles. He also serves as the main source of comic relief. A-yuk.

In the end, the awesome performances don’t save The Fighter from being a mediocre boxing movie with not that much going on. Wait for it on Netflix.

Bonus: Enjoy the “Not You” viral video above!

This review originally appeared on the Mishka Bloglin. Patrick reviews movies on there under the nom de plume Oh Mars.