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Southpaw is a movie about the successful boxing champion Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) whose life begins to fall apart because he cannot control his high temper.
To begin with, the story line is simple and not very original. The protagonist who has everything suddenly loses everything and needs to find a new way to win it all back. Haven't I seen this before? And I'm not even talking about movies in general. Actually, one can find boxing movies with a very similar story (for instance Rocky II or Raging Bull).
The characters depth is nothing near to the ones we see in "Raging Bull" or "Warrior" (movies in which motivations and reasons of characters are more complex and interesting). In Southpaw, the characters lack depth, thus they become a tad boring. Personally, I felt like flat character design was one of the main issues of this movie. Furthermore, you always felt like someone already told this story in a much better way. Why should I waste my time to watch a poor remake? Naturally, this sounds harsh and may be a little exaggerated, but I honestly believe this is the major aspect of the movie that annoyed me – unoriginality and the incorporation of many clichés.
I would still recommend you this movie, only because of two people: Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker. These two tremendous actors made this movie not a total waste of time. As aforementioned, Gyllenhaal plays in the lead, portraying the struggling fighter Billy Hope. It is a stupendous performance from a brilliant actor. Although the character is partly despicable and should be hated, one does still feel for him. That is the work of a master in his craft. Academy Award winner Whitaker plays Tick Wills, an older gym owner who later becomes Billy's mentor and new coach after his demise. The relation between those two characters is the best one in the whole movie. What happens when chaos and fury meet experience and discipline? These two spectacular actors were the absolute highlight of the movie, which makes it a bit frustrating to see so less of them on screen. The filmmakers rather concentrated on Billy's relation with his daughter than on the one I found deeply entertaining.
This leads to my other point. I found that the role of Oona Laurence was a miscast. She plays the daughter of Billy and is devastated after a certain incident. Things between her and Billy do not work quite well (I can just recall, "Haven't I seen this before?") The only scene of this side story that touched me was when Billy got slapped in the face by his own daughter. That's it, nothing more. Moreover, I did not like Laurence in the movie. No offense, but she was not very convincing and rather annoying.
On the other hand, I thought that the rest of the cast delivered. Rachel McAdams and even 50cent impressed me – gorgeous casting.
All in all, the movie was nothing exceptional or anything to remember. I think "average" sums it up pretty well. Southpaw did not quite live up to my high expectations, although having some great actors on board. What you see was nothing original or mind-blowing, it felt like a bad "Raging Bull" spin off. I can still recommend the movie to people who love sport movies in general and want to see some great acting. Otherwise, leave it and don't watch it. 6/10
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