3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pitch perfect performances pull no punches,
This review is from: The Fighter [DVD] (DVD)
Mark Wahlberg is an excellent actor. It almost pains me to write those words. I mean... the guy started off as a (terrible) rapper and a pants model (as in a man who modelled underpants, not a model who wasn't very good at it.) He shouldn't be able to act, and if he does act, it should be in dreadful, straight-to-DVD adaptations of video games...
However, while he's done his fair share of dross ('The Happening'... *shudder*), given the right director and the right material, he's actually great. Genuinely great.
With 'The Fighter', he's on good ground. Skilled (if controversial) director, well above average script, playing someone he's known personally for many years. Shame, then, that in both the majority of reviews and the awards season, all the limelight shone on his co-stars, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Not to say they aren't great - they all are - but whereas Bale and Leo in particular are allowed to take the brakes off and freewheel with larger-than-life personalities, Wahlberg's performance is one of subtle looks and glances. On your first viewing, you won't take your eyes off Micky Ward's monstrous mother and drug-addled brother. Second time around, watch Wahlberg, notice what he's doing while Bale and Leo are biting chunks out of the scenery. It makes for an even more rewarding watch.
Another inspired piece of casting was that of boxing coach and non-actor Mickey O'Keefe in the part of... Mickey O'Keefe! This - and a cameo appearance by Sugar Ray Leonard - combined with the use of HBO's camera crew for the fight sequences, gives the film a vibrant, documentary edge, complimented by the often improvisational approach used by the professional actors.
Okay, some of those fight scenes aren't quite as kinetic as real welter-weight fights, and the film lacks the epic poetry and lush photography of Raging Bull, but it's more convincing and more genuinely (rather than cynically) uplifting than 'Rocky', and more moving (in my opinion) than that other Oscar heavyweight, 'The King's Speech'.