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The Fighter - CinemaDave

Jan. 31st, 2011 01:38 pm The Fighter

Of all the Oscar nominated best picture nominees from 2010, **The Fighter** is probability the most energetic entry. With the soundtrack blasting the Heavy’s hit commercial song “How do you like me now?/“ we are introduced to younger brother Micky (Mark Wahlberg) and older half brother Dicky (Chjristian Bale) during the opening credits. With such economic confidence, director David O. Russell hijacks his audience into the seedy streets of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Considered the pride of Lowell, Dicky once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a welter weight contest. A crack addict who hangs out with lowlifes, Dicky is his baby brother’s fight manager. While Dicky provides excellent boxing tips, Micky’s career is a shambles. After losing a bout in Atlantic City in front of a national audience, Micky decides to take control of his career.

Micky’s career changing decision does not sit well with his mother, Alice (Melissa Leo) or his six peroxide blonde harpy sisters. However, Micky reconciles with his long suffering father (Jack McGee) and dates a new gal, Charlene (Amy Adams), whose natural red hair offends the sisters. As Micky makes the transition from stepping stone to ladder climber, Micky’s success creates a schism within this dysfunctional family.

Based on a true story, **The Fighter** has all the earmarks of a successful boxing movie. Yet the screen writers Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy strive for more intellectual depth about the double edged sword of success. Both Dicky and Micky sit on opposite ends of this sword, yet it is their mother that provides the pricking tip.

Christian Bale and Melissa Leo have been gathering the best supporting acting kudos at the award’s circuit. Bale and Leo’s performances echo the urban world inhabited by Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando. Leo delivers the funniest lines, it is Bale’s transitional performance from drug abuser to trusted consigliore that is Oscar worthy.

The weight of the story falls on Mark Wahlberg’s welterweight shoulders. As the movie ringmaster, Wahlberg’s gains audience empathy, but it is Amy Adams’ eyes that reveal her boyfriend’s conscience. While she is likely to lose the Oscar race to Leo, Adams is proving to be a consistent commodity for well written award winning motion pictures.

Compared to **Toy Story 3,** **The King’s Speech** and **True Grit,** **The Fighter** does not hold up as best picture champion this year. Yet **The Fighter** is a hard film to dislike and will be an audience pleaser like **Rocky Balboa.**

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