Boxing movies have become impossible to make in a way that delivers fresh content. The Fighter certainly fails in this way as well. It is based on a true story, but the plot is painfully familiar. Even so, David Russell delivers a respectable drama within the confines of this static genre.
‘Irish’ Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, is a working class boxer in Massachusetts. His family loves him, but are beginning to stifle his direction.
Micky’s elder brother, Dicky, played by Christian Bale, had been a somewhat successful welterweight and now has become Micky’s coach. His instinct for ring tactics, his addiction to crack interferes with his responsibilities. Since he failed to show so often for training, Micky was left to a police sergeant, Mickey O’Keefe, to train him. Micky’s mother was reliable, but was often unappreciated, since the weight of her personality often embarrassed him.
Although the movie has conservative goals, it accomplishes them with great efficiency. Wahlberg is quite believable in this role, since he has taken a few years to prepare for it. Where Wahlberg is the concrete actor in this movie, however, the two do border on overacting.
Bale sets his reference point for his part on the real person, revealing to us both the positives and negatives of such an approach. He hung around the real person, Dicky and dropped his weight to look similar. His dedication to the part is alone worth seeing.