The Fighter is another movie that takes the Rocky road to success as it highlights the career of an underdog fighter who gets his shot at fame and fortune. The difference in this one and the other hundred "Rocky" imitators is the caliber of the acting. Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo are all at the top of their game and make this movie something special to watch.
The film is based on a true story about two brothers who live in Lowell, Massachusetts. The older one, Dicky, (Bale), is a legend of sorts as he reportedly knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a boxing match. Dicky has lived on that notoriety for years and is always talking about his comeback. In truth he has become a crackhead and is nothing but trouble for his younger brother Micky (Wahlberg).
Micky tries to do everything to please his family and especially his mother Alice (Leo). She is his manager and keeps getting him booked into fights which are not good for his career. She also shows her preference for Dicky at every turn which antagonizes those who want the best for Micky. This includes Micky's girlfriend Charlene (Adams).
If Micky is ever to succeed in the boxing game then he has to break free of his family. In the town of Lowell that is something that is very hard to do. Loyalty and devotion to family are two things kids are instilled with from the start.
Bale is the standout performer in the film. He is emaciated looking and brain damaged acting. This is not the same type of guy who plays Batman. He is totally immersed in this role and makes Dicky somewhat loveable and hateable at the same time. This is a brilliant performance from an actor who always impresses.
Leo is also amazing. She captures perfectly the blowsy, tough attitude of Alice. There is not one draw off a cigarette or one sharp word snapped out of her mouth that is not in keeping with her character. Leo has been impressive in other movies but in this one she excels.
So does Amy Adams. She has won awards in the past with her performances in June Bug, Doubt and Julie and Julia but it is her performance in this film that shows her versatility. When you think that she is the same actress who played Giselle in Enchanted and now Charlene in this film, well you know how talented she is.
Not as outstanding is Wahlberg's performance, but it is his quiet strength that is the glue that holds the film together. His is also the performance that enhances all the others. Bale, Leo and Adams would not shine as brightly as they do were it not for the support they receive from Wahlberg.
The movie is rated R for profanity and violence.
In watching the film you might have a little sense of déjà vu, and might find yourself listening for a shout out to "Adrian," but not for long. The talented performances of this cast will make their mark and cause you to remember them long after Rocky has been forgotten.