Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Boxing World Champion Billy Hope, trying to piece his life together after the sudden loss of his wife. To get back on top, Hope must battle his demons and get back to what he does best, box!
With Southpaw causing an uncommon rift between us here at All Things Movies, it seems an apt time to put our gloves on and go head to head with our review. Let us know whether you agree with Ian ‘The Dark Knight’ Crow or Ian ‘The Man of Steel’ Morton by either tagging us on Twitter or commenting on Facebook! So, without further adieu, LETS GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEE!
Round 1: Plot
IC: It’s incredibly hard to think of an original story for a sporting drama, especially within a genre done so many times before. The clichéd endings and middle motivational scenes have been overused and are a tad boring, buts done well enough here to not be an issue. I can understand people’s thoughts that ‘Southpaw’ doesn’t have the most original story (as I guessed the ending before the film even started) but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s hugely entertaining.
IM: A misaligned plot that only opens more holes than it wraps up, ‘Southpaw’ feels unfinished, underwhelming and a tad dull. The boxing scenes themselves are expertly filmed but as a film fan, Fuquas attempt at telling a story pales in comparison to his previous efforts, Training Day and Shooter A boxing film only really has two ways it can go…win or lose, its just a shame that its done without much of a story to keep the viewers wanting more. If your a boxing fan, the story won’t necessarily matter, if you aren’t however, it’s lacklustre and somewhat lazy script will leave you rather bored and unfortunately quite disengaged.
Round 2: Directing
IC: Antoine Fuqua, known mostly for his terrific cop drama ‘Training Day’ back in 2001, hasn’t quite hit the heights of the Denzel Washington flick. His latest film is undoubtedly his best effort since then and has to be applauded for its great direction. Using much loved traditional sporting shots throughout the film and adding fresh angles that portray the anger and sadness that are shown on screen by leading man Jake Gyllenhaal. I enjoy the majority of Antoine Fuqua films, and at the young directing age of 49, the American director is improving, especially after this effort.
IM: Given its completely illogical storytelling, the direction is surprisingly decent. With not much to say outside of the fights, Fuquas real talents shine through as each punch lands and every point is won. With pacing being the real issue, it is sometimes difficult to tell that this is filmed by a veteran rather than an amateur, but thankfully the boughts are more than enough to show off his talent.
Round 3: Acting
IC: Jake Gyllenhaal really is dominating the screen at the moment. Everyone knows exactly what he is capable of, and again, he provides another electrifying performance on screen. Coming from his brilliant performance as the skinny psychotic Lou Bloom in ‘Nightcrawler’, he has packed on the pounds to play boxer Billy Hope. Showing the charisma of boxer Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull), Billy Hope is an animal in the ring who doesn’t back down. Verbal abuse and bloodied faces are the essence of the boxing style for Hope. Gyllenhaal yet again provides us with a storming performance and proves that he is the best actor on screen right now.
IM: As ever, Jake Gyllenhaal is the driver of everything in this film. Although not quite reaching the heights of last years Nightcrawler, he does give an impressive performance and without him, this would have been a lot worse than intended. With a short and sweet performance from Rachel McAdams, the biggest surprise here came from the usually unflappable Forest Whitacker. The actor gives a flourish of overacted set pieces and underachieved emotional moments that don’t live up to his previous efforts. Whether this was in retaliation to a poorly written character or he was just having a bad week, its hard to tell whether he is intentionally trying to be bad or not.
Round 4: Overall
IC: ‘Southpaw’ isn’t the greatest boxing movie that you will ever see; but it’s another boxing movie that you can add to the pile. It’s one you will be able to enjoy viewing after viewing and its all down to the main man Jake Gyllenhaal. Without him, I fear ‘Southpaw’ would have been a hugely average film. Its due to both his powerful performance in the ring and an incredibly emotional performance outside that you can keep connected to this character. ‘Southpaw’ gets 4 out of 5 stars from Ian Crow!
IM: If you’re a boxing fan, this is one for you, but if you’re not, this is probably one to avoid. Riding on cliches, we always know which way the fight will go, its just a shame that the back story isn’t interesting or definitive enough to engage the film fan. A boredom filled 2 out of 5 stars.
Now the gloves are off, we would love to know who you agree with and what you thought yourself! Let us know on our media pages!!