I never intended on seeing The Fighter. My original destination was Tron Legacy. I tried, but have still not seen a film in the new, super fancy fangled 3-D format. So a friend of mine, me and a joint walked through the rare Southern California rain to go relive Tron. Well, us and hundreds of other people with nothing to do, but go to the movies. Wet & stoned, we stood under an awning watching the very long ticket line not moving, trying to develop a plan B.
The Fighter was the best candidate (and soonest time) at the next theater and there was no line. I initially walked out at the end of the credits not feeling anything for this film. A few hours later I was strangely annoyed. Yes, Christian Bale is pretty amazing as Dicky Eklund, ex-fighter turned crackhead. As usual, he is so intense and lost in this role, he practically vibrates off the screen. But I am starting to become immune to his talents and only notice his weight. Roll after roll, the weight comes off and then he gets buff again. Over and over and over again, flip flopping with every fucking role! Mr. Bale, let me introduce you to Mr. De Niro in Raging Bull and again in The Untouchables. You got to play it fat so us Americans can relate to you a little better. It's bad enough you're Welsh. Where the fuck is that?
Mark Wahlberg plays the title role as boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and is perfectly made and matched for this muscle-head role. He trained for two years and looks the part. Again, he has had the same part for most of his career so bravo for getting good material that can fit an impressive physique. I could talk about his bulked up to regular size person roles, but where Bale lacks physical (fat) range, Wahlberg just lacks any range at all. I'll be surprised if he doesn't get nominated for an Oscar this year.
If you can put aside my issues with the leading men, the rest of The Fighter is quite good. The fight sequences are shot by the camera teams who do all the HBO boxing events and the moves and cuts of the fights here really come alive. Melissa Leo and the handful of other actresses who make up the female side of the Ward brood, nail Massachusetts white trash. They are a scary group of harpies you wouldn't want to cross in a dark bar.
Finally, as you probably already know, The Fighter is based on a true story. Similar to the ending in Blow, with a frozen shot of the real drug dealer George Jung as he looks today, The Fighter has the real Dicky & Micky mugging for the camera and basically thanking us all for coming. This is the sort of cheese dick ending I hate. Not only does it cheapen all the obvious hard work everyone on the film has done, it pretty much puts the Academy's dick in it's ass for the sake of Oscar nominations. If I could go back and see this film, I would wait until it was a rental.