I did not know what to expect with this one. Was it going to be "Rocky Returns?" Well, not exactly.
This film is wholly based around a true story focusing on the lives of 2 brothers.
The movie opens with a film crew following around Micky Ward and his older brother Dicky Eklund. We are led to believe its to track the comeback fight of once local hero Eklund (Bale) who hit the big time once by putting down Sugar Ray Leonard. In the background is the younger brother (Wahlberg) a two bit fighter who practically is the lap dog to the Mum and 7 sisters of the apocalypse (you will see what I mean).
In reality - HBO are not tracking the comeback fight but the effects of Crack, an addiction that has Bale hooked and relatively overlooked and ignored by his family.
It takes Amy Adams to show Wahlberg that there is bigger and better opportunities out there than dodgy back-hand fights set up by his family and after an all out rumble with police, it takes the incarceration of Bale for Wahlberg to find his true self and start to hit the big time.
So - plot sorted. Now the characters.
This movie is all about the performances. They are some of the best I have seen in years. Initially, Bale comes across as a complete dick. He is unrecognisable as the crack addict Eklund and the mannerisms, accent and sheer presence is jaw dropping. Its only right at the very end of the movie, when the credits role and you see a brief interview with the real brothers that everything falls into place - at this time you understand that Bale not only captured the look and attitude of the real Eklund but got it so spot on that you could hardly tell the difference. Awesome!
Now Amy, again - almost unrecognisable with barely any make up, she stands strong and proud against the warring clan of mother and seven sisters, defending her man and making him see that he is trapped by a close nit family who's focuses are on the lesser talented and drug addicted older brother. A new side to her and one she does with true presence.
Every one's heart goes out to the dad in this - seeing the truth but too scared to stand up against the female clan!! He gets his moment of glory and the "escape" in the van is one of a few laughs this movie gets.
This is a moving true story - one that tugs on the heart strings and is a battle of family vs. career. Whats right and whats good. Bale is phenomenal. Mark Wahlberg, another solid performance.
The only drawback - it must be a British thing but a lot of the dialogue seemed mumbled which was right for the story, location & accents but not so great to listen too.
There has not been a great Boxing movie since Rocky and before you ask, 2 3 4 & 5 don't count!
So, Boxing fan or not - there is very little action in the ring but when it comes - it is filmed in the "TV" style and makes for a great atmosphere - plus, its well shot and captivating but there is so much more to this movie. This is a story two brothers, a heap of ugly sisters, an understated but still hot Amy Adams and some cameos from the real people involved (the cop/coach is the real guy who trained the real Micky Ward, Mickey O'Keefe!!)
Stay through the credits and it will all make sense.
See this if...................................you want to be inspired!!!