On Saturday May 2, 2015, I was one of the millions of lemmings lusting to watch the “fight of the century”: Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao; not an aficionado of the sport, but a fan of great boxing films; grossly naive, felt this competition would have some aspects of “Rocky”, “Raging Bull”, “Cinderella Man’”; lacking gusto, barely-breathtaking, the only surprise was the lack of visible “ink” on Mayweather’s torso; tattooing a discernable symbol of the profession, an indication of past, present and future whims/conquests.
Ubiquitously inked in “Southpaw” (a remake of 1979’s tearjerker “The Champ”), Jake Gyllenhaal is pungently potent as the mentally muddled “Great White Hope”, “Billy Hope”, “abb- solutely” phenomenal, powerful, sculpted physique, the film commences at the pinnacle of his career; a career determined by his wife “Maureen” ( luscious Rachel McAdams), both graduates of Hell’s Kitchen; predictability seeps into the “riches, rags” scenario, but director Antoine Fuqua’s prescient casting of Forest Whitaker as “Tick Willis”, a tough, no-nonsense coach keeps Billy and the viewer focused; training scenes are painfully realistic; as are the tender moments with Maureen and ten-year-old daughter “Leila” (gifted, Oona Lawrence).
“Southpaw” will not rank with archival, classic fighter films but Gyllenhaal’s performance, both in and out of the ring imbues the movie with a touch of dignity, grandeur and grace.
TWO &1/2 STARS!!