By The Commander
3 1/2 out of 4 stars
When you think of a boxing movie you think of Rocky. Why, because it was such a popular movie and made a star out of Sylvester Stallone. Southpaw is not so much of a rags to riches story, it is more of a falling from grace, a reversal of fortune story. There are other boxing movies (Raging Bull, The Great White Hope, etc.) but none as intense due to its ability to utilize today’s film technology to bring the action in the ring alive to the audience.
I loved this film. This is a very powerful drama of a professional boxer’s life who has risen to the top and then loses it all. That's as much as I can tell you about the film without giving too much away. The story, screenplay and photography were over-the-top; in fact some of the fight scenes must've been filmed with a GoPro camera attached to the boxer’s gloves and the term “in your face” doesn't quite do justice to the cinematography. Writer Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, The Bastard Executioner) creates a very power story and script that keeps you immersed every second of the film. The story is compelling and the action is real and totally connects with the audience.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Forrest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams and Oona Laurence turn in excellent performances. Even the supporting cast, Naomie Harris, Skylan Brooks and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, were excellent. Miguel Gomez (The Strain) will soon become a rising star based upon this performance so don’t forget his name. I don’t know who the personal trainer was for Jake & Miguel but based upon their rock hard 6 packs abs, I want to hire him! The transformation in his physical appearance from his last film Nightcrawler, is just incredible. I have never seen Jake in such great condition for a 34-year-old Hollywood actor. I heard that it took 6 months for him to get his body into shape. I’ll take a full year; I’m not in that much of a rush.
This film will leave you emotionally drained but full of energy by the time you walk out of the theatre. I was totally emerged and I loved the non-boxing scenes as well as everything else. This is one of director’s Antoine Fuqua’s (The Equalizer, Shooter, Olympus has Fallen) best movies since Training Day.
Spoiler alert: this is a very physical boxing movie. There's lots of blood so if you're squeamish you might want to turn away for some of the scenes but it is as realistic as it gets.
The Oscar season has officially started with this film. I expect it to walk away with many of the top awards so don't be surprised if you hear the name Southpaw over and over and over again. Go see this film on the big screen and do not bring young children with you (as some people did in our screening audience). You'll have a much more enjoyable experience. Get ready to be knocked out!