Standard. So this is about hothead boxer Billy “The Great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has it pretty good, but is getting up there in age. After a major tragedy, his entire life gets turned upside down in disarray, and he now has to start from the ground up all over again. I look at boxing/fighting movies the same way that I look at exorcism movies: once you’ve seen one, you’ve kind of seen them all. There is nothing wrong with Southpaw, but if you’ve seen The Fighter, Million Dollar Baby or any other boxing movie out there, there’s just nothing about this that is going to wow you.
The one thing this movie really has going for it is the transformation that Jake Gyllenhaal underwent for the role. He is a lean cut of pure muscle, which I know is not an easy process to go through, but it shows just how dedicated he is to the craft. That said, the lines he has to deliver are all thoroughly mumbled, which makes sense, given that he gets punched in the face for a living, but that makes important things like character development a bit tricky. Even Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is more articulate than he is, which is not a sentence I thought I would ever write in this blog. In addition to the garble mouth, Southpaw also has its work cut out for it in that your main character is hard to sympathize with. When this story starts out, he’s a guy that’s got everything he could possibly want in life, so it makes it hard to root for him. I know that this was done with the intention of making the riches to rags to riches story all the more compelling, but it just ends up making this have a rockier start than it needs to have, no pun intended.
I know this probably started off with the aspirations of being an Oscar hopeful, but it’s just not that deep. Everyone gives a committed performance in this character study, and there’s nothing inherently wrong about it other than the writing, which is predictable as it is drab. Once you make it to the big tragedy 30 minutes in, you can map out every single beat this is going to hit from that point to the finish, and I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make for an interesting movie. For me, this movie is just kind of there because it is so devoid of surprises, and I can only recommend that you check this out if you have a giant mancrush on Jake Gyllenhaal or are just really into boxing movies.
Southpaw (2015) **1/2
– Critic for Hire