Title – Southpaw (2015)
Director – Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur)
Cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forrest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, Naomie Harris
Plot – After losing his wife Maureen (McAdams) in tragic circumstances, famous boxer Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) finds himself in the greatest battle of his life in trying to win back his daughter Leila (Laurence) and win back the chance to prove himself in the boxing arena once more after he finds himself struggling to keep his head above water.
“God must have some kind of plan to teach me some kind of lesson. I just can’t figure out what it is”
Review by Eddie on 9/05/2016
If only Southpaw was half the film that Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance was, then what a mighty drama it would’ve been.
Coming off the back of a career best stretch of work that goes right back to the excellent Prisoners and culminated at its peak with the fantastically eerie and memorable Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal has been on some type of roll in recent years and where his role as night-time photographer Louis Bloom saw him look gaunt, thin and generally unwell, Southpaw sees the committed actor ripped and looking the part as hardened New York boxer Billy Hope whose lost his beloved wife Maureen (played by the sadly underutilised Rachel McAdams) and finds himself spiralling out of control after years of a being a successful boxer.
Gyllenhaal completely inhabits his good intentioned but not always wise boxer and he delivers a knockout performance that is in fact too good for a film of Southpaw’s predictable and sadly un-affecting narrative and while he makes the film far more watchable than it should be, he can’t save the film from becoming a highly forgettable boxing tinged drama.
From the film’s opening 15 minutes it’s not hard to see exactly where proceedings are being led to and where they will end up (once Forest Whitaker’s harsh yet kind hearted trainer Tick Wills shows up you may as well press the stop button) and whilst director Antoine Fuqua finds excitement and energy inside the boxing ring the films sporadically used bouts aren’t enough to save the film’s total lack of motivation outside the ring and frustratingly this marks another so-so picture from Fuqua who seems to have peaked far too early with his standout 2001 Denzel Washington star vehicle Training Day.
Another glaring issue with Southpaw is the way in which it drops the ball regarding Hope’s relationship with his estranged young daughter Leila there are far too few scenes in Southpaw between the pair and with a central driving force in the story centring around Hope’s wish to be the father his daughter needs, this is a big mistake by Fuqua and his famed Sons of Anarchy screenwriter Kurt Sutter.
For fans of Gyllenhaal Southpaw will offer up another great chance to see the esteemed performer deliver another memorable and full bodied turn but as a boxing drama, Southpaw is merely ticking off a checklist of events that have been done before and done a whole lot better.
2 ½ back tattoos out of 5