What does it mean to be human? That’s the question I ask of any story because every story offers an answer. The stories coming out of Hollywood are often trite answers to this question and the films of 2010 were for the most part these kind of stories. However, there are a few, those happy few, that offer more, that make us think, that leave us thinking, and it is these films that deserve to be in the “top movies” list of any year.
The Fighter is one of these top movies of 2010.
The film is about two brothers in the town of lowell, Massachusetts. One was a fighter and is now a crack addict, the other is a fighter on a losing streak and on his way out of the sport. Dickey Eklund, played by Christian Bale, is the former boxer who’s claim to fame as the “Pride of Lowell” is based on how he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard a decade and has been living off this moment ever since. Unfortunately, his boxing career didn’t live on and Dickey turned his attention to training his little brother Mickey.
The movie’s main plot arc centers on the early career of Mickey “Irish” Ward, a boxer with some talent but hamstrung by a manager (his mother) who gets him into bad fights and a bother Dickey, who trains Mickey in and around his time at the crack house.
Even if you didn’t know anything about the history of Mickey Ward, the plot is fairly predictable. However, this is not the kind of movie where you look for twists and turns to keep you interested. What you are watching is the human drama unfold of a small-town fighter struggling to get a chance in the ring and prove himself. We’ve all heard this story before.
What we haven’t seen is a performance like what Bale gives as Dickey. I love boxing movies (most boxing movies I should say) but I’m not a big fan of the sport. What intrigued me about The Fighter wasn’t so much the fighting because honestly, it wasn’t that well done. Cinderella Man had much better fighting scenes for example. What The Fighter had was an intense look into the tension and turmoil of a family trying to make it big through their youngest son.
Like Rocky Balboa, Mickey carries his family out of despair and to the top of the boxing world. As he goes for the Welterweight title the real resolution is between Mickey and his brother Dickey and the fact that even though Dickey’s choices nearly ruined his brother’s career, their connection as brothers and boxers, was the cord that pulled him through.
There are a few awkward scenes that seem like they’re trying too hard to “be important” and Mark Wahlberg’s performance is overshadowed by Bale and Amy Adams who plays his bar-tending girlfriend. He’s a great actor but in this role, it seems like he doesn’t really have anything to do.
The Fighter is one of the better movies of 2010 and should be considered for a best picture nomination and nominations for both Bale and Adams. It’s not your typical Hollywood film and the cast of characters sure makes it feel like it’s an independent movie made in small town America. It’s about the people that live there and the way people live through others who do greater things than most ever attempt to do.