"It’s time to step back inside the ring with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, starring together in this powerful true story of two brothers fighting against the odds to secure a historic title match. As is often the case, the biggest battle takes place outside the ring, as Micky and Dicky struggle to keep their feuding family from tearing itself apart. David O.Russell (Three Kings) takes to the director’s chair, bringing with him a top-notch cast that includes Melissa Leo, Jack McGee and a screen stealing turn from Amy Adams.
Struggling boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) has long been overshadowed by his older brother and trainer, Dicky (Bale), a local legend who is now battling his own demons. The explosive relationship they share threatens to take them both down, but at the heart of their tale is a bond of blood that may prove to be their only shot at redemption. Bartender Charlene (Adams) proves to be a worthy adversary for the Ward clan when she starts dating Micky, and it’s her influence that threatens to derail the entire family. Will Micky make it without his brother at his side; will Dicky overcome his drug addiction, and how many boxing movie clichés will go the distance in O.Russell’s sublime boxing drama?
The Fighter walks the same path as every other successful sports drama, and the outcome is obvious from the start. Every character is flawed in one way or another, and Scott Silver’s script comes with very few surprises, but that’s my one and only criticism of this exhilarating boxing drama. The performances are spot on. Bale slims down once again to play a drug-fuelled local hero, under the illusion that a local film crew are making a film about his overdue comeback. Wahlberg is restrained by comparison but no less intoxicating, though it’s Amy Adams who impresses most with a gutsy turn that should secure her a future beyond musical Disney fare and Muppet movies.
The Fighter refuses to break new ground with its familiar blend of gritty drama, stirring action and domestic chaos, but with three stunning lead turns to fall back on, David O.Russell ensures that you won’t be throwing in the towel. The Fighter, for want of a better line, is an absolute knockout."