First Hit: This was a fully entertaining and enjoyable film.
Yes it is much like “The Champ” in more ways than one, but so what – this film was very enjoyable.
Charlie Kenton (played by Hugh Jackman) is a washed-up boxer, who had one glorifying moment in the ring. He’s a loner traveling around in HI truck lugging robots around who fight bulls and other robots for money. He’s clearly a “live for the moment guy” looking to make a large score so that he can pay off some guys he owes money to.
But we all know in the first 10 minutes, even if he makes a large score, he’ll be back to where he is because he doesn’t plan or think ahead. One day he is served with papers that his son Max (played by Dakota Goyo), who he saw once as a baby, has lost his mother and that he has custody or has to sign over custody to the boy’s aunt. He sees this as an angle to get money and as the boy clearly tells him, “you sold me for $50K”.
The boy has to spend some time with his father before custody is handed over and we all know what happens next; Max and Charlie are alike in many ways and each learns and grows by being with the other.
There is very little that is not predictable in this film but there is nothing about this film that isn’t genuinely entertaining. The relationship between Charlie and Bailey Tallet (played by Evangeline Lilly) who’s father trained Charlie as a boxer is clearly believable. The relationship between Max and Bailey is wonderful, especially when she shows him clippings of his father boxing.
Although I thought the Tak Mashido and Farra Lemkova characters were a bit overdone there was little I didn’t like.
Jackman is perfect as the guy who cares, doesn’t care, thinks, doesn’t think, and has the physical attributes to pull off this role. He was great. Goyo was, to me, the star of this picture. He shows grace, talent and a command of the role that was wonderful. Lilly, was good as the woman waiting for her love to realize it. John Gatins and Dan Gilroy philosophically borrowed strongly from “The Champ” but they made it their own as well. Shawn Levy clearly knows how to make an entertaining film.
Overall: Although there is not real big meaningful message here, this film was simply a joy to watch.