Saturday, July 25, 2015

Southpaw Movie Review: Boxing Done Right!!

Southpaw was fantastic. I went in expecting an ok movie sports movie, and was treated to a spectacular performance. Jake Gyllenhaal is spectacular. I’m not sure he has acted in a poor movie since Love and Other Drugs.  I became invested in the movie because of Gyllenhaal’s performance of Billy Hope.  The boxing scenes are exquisite. Antoine Fuqua did a masterful job of shooting the boxing matches. It felt like you were watching a true boxing match.  I was on the edge of my seat through each fight. I left the movie having broken out in a sweat. I movie provided that much tension.  If you like boxing or sports movies in general you should experience Southpaw in the theatre.
 The movie follows the story of Billy Hope.  Who during the course of the movie experiences great loss, and has to overcome them to regain his former life. Hmmmm, where I have heard this story before…. Yes the story is very tried and true. I’m not going to call it cliché. Cliché means the story is overused and lacking original thought. This has original thought in how Gyllenhaal portrays Billy Hope and in Fuqua’s overall direction of the movie. Has the story been told before? Yes it has, but this movie doesn’t feel paint by numbers.  I believed Gyllenhaal was a boxer, and bought his emotional turmoil throughout the movie.  You also bought into the love between him, his wife, and daughter. Rachel McAdams was good as Gyllenhaal’s wife, Maureen. Oona Laurence stole the show as his daughter. She showed tremendous range for such a young actress. All of the performances in the movie are great, there isn’t a bad one. Which is why a story told countless times worked so well.
A word of warning though. This movie has some heavy drama. Almost at a time too dramatic. The movie hits Billy Hope so hard with circumstances he almost can’t get back up. This is one of the criticism I had with the film. It’s almost unbelievable he would be able to recover from such devastation. The recovery is done tastefully, and it works somewhat in the framework of the movie.  I just think they could have not beaten him down quite as much, and gotten the same effect.  I also couldn’t predict which way the last fight was going to end. They could have went either way with it and the story would have just as much meaning, which is a credit to the movie on the whole.  One other thing. If you haven’t watched the trailer for this movie, DON’T! It spoils way too much. I watched it, and wished I hadn’t before seeing the movie. 
Don’t be scared away if you don’t like sporting movies. The movie is also extremely touching. For anyone with kids, you will be able to relate to Hope and his family’s relationship. The actors all have a great chemistry together and you buy into their love for one another.  I am really surprised to many critics reaction to Southpaw. Right now it’s sitting at 58% on Rotten Tomatoes.  That seems low to me. I would be certain it would get counted as fresh, or at least above the 60% mark.  Don’t let the score scare you away. If you like Gyllenhaal and you like sports you will get your money’s worth out this movie.
Short blog about Southpaw, but I’m going to risk repeating my main points over and over if I don’t end it nowJ. It’s a great fight movie, with great performances and a touching heartwarming story. Yes it has been done before, but the portrayals are worth seeing. Gyllenhaal puts in an Oscar worthy performance as Billy Hope. He won’t get nominated, but I think his performance is that good.  Anything Gyllenhaal is in now is a must watch at this point.  The story was a tad unbelievable at times, and overly dramatic. It’s the only drawback I saw though, and the boxing scenes more than make up for any shortcomings. I felt like I was watching a live Pay Per View event. 
My Rating: Must see in Theaters/Will stop and watch every time on TV

My Top Five Favorite Boxing Movies:

1.      Rocky
2.      Rocky IV (noticed I didn’t say best boxing movies, I said my favorite)
3.      Million Dollar Baby
4.      The Fighter
5.      Southpaw

Wait you say!! No Raging Bull. Well I actually have never made it through Raging Bull. It would probably make my list, but I have never been in the right mood to sit down and watch it the whole way through.  If you think I’m crazy, kill me in the comments, and tell me your top five. 

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