Paramount Pictures “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, is a compelling adaptation of Bob Halloran’s biography of Lowell, Massachusetts boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. Chronicling Ward’s career from its stall in the midst of tough fights and dysfunctional family melodrama to his challenge of Shea Neary in England for the World Boxing Union (WBU) Light Welterweight Championship, the film harshly and honestly portrays the emotional oppression of alcohol, drugs, and regret with a tempering humor that keeps it from going over the edge. The result is a celebration of personal endurance and family love that saves viewers from a pessimistic conclusion as much as from the fluffy formula of a Hollywood happy ending.
The film does not follow Ward’s career after the Neary fight, when he went on to compete against the late Arturo Gatti in a three fight series that earned Ward’s reputation among boxing fans and resulted in his only seven figure pay day. But that wasn’t the point of the story. The point was to portray the experience of the Massachusetts town Ward is from, and to celebrate the triumph not only of Ward himself, but his brother, former boxer Dicky Eklund, and Ward’s love interest, Charlene, as they each reconcile their respective past failures with the promise of the present in order to grow as people. With an accurate portrayal of working class life in the greater Boston area and an honest treatment of the boxer’s life, “The Fighter” is easy to recommend to all movie goers, even those with little interest in boxing.
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