First Hit: A very good adaptation of a true story.
Often times the adaptation of a true story heads off the rails and almost makes the story/film unbelievable.
However in The Fighter you’ve got a good solid cast creating a believable and interesting story. Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward a boxer who has promise and is managed by his mother Alice Ward (played by Melissa Leo) and trained by his brother Dicky (played by Christian Bale).
Alice believes she is a great manager and is doing what is best for her son but the reality is she is using Micky to keep some money coming into the family and to support her motley crew of daughters who don’t do anything but bitch. D
icky was once a promising boxer and stood over Sugar Ray Leonard in a boxing match. However, the early fame and lack of an internal compass Dicky is now a crack addict and occasionally gets it together enough to help his younger brother Micky train.
All of this falls apart when a fighter Micky is supposed to fight gets sick and his mother and brother coax him into fighting someone weighing 20 more pounds than him. He gets slaughtered in the ring. After the defeat Micky starts to date Charlene Fleming (played by Amy Adams) who is a bartender and dropped out of college because she drank too much and partied too much.
She falls for Micky and also sees the sickness in Micky’s family and gets him to change managers and trainers which allow him to win fights. After his brother gets out of jail he and his mother try to get back into Micky’s good graces. In the end there is compromise between the two factions and Micky goes on to win the welterweight championship.
Wahlberg is wonderful as the quiet brother who tries to do the best for his family and himself. Wahlberg is physical enough to make the boxer’s life real on the screen. Bale is the true wonder of this picture. He has to get an academy nominee for this performance. When he is on the screen there is virtually no one else to watch. He eats, drinks, and lives Dicky Ward. One of the more interesting revelations is during the credits watching the real life Dicky and Micky interact. Bale is Dicky. Leo is perfect as the victimized, controlling, passive aggressive mother who really only wants what she wants and has no consciousness about others. Adams is very strong as Charlene. Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy wrote a very strong and engaging script while David O. Russell directed this great cast to perfection.
Overall: This is a very strong film if one can get over some of the difficult scenes in the boxing ring.