I hate boxing! There I said it. Therefore, no surprise that I didn't have an interest in watching the 2015 drama, Southpaw. Even Jake Gyllenhaal wasn't enough to initially draw me in. However, after I took the time to watch the trailer, I mean REALLY watch the trailer, I had a change of heart. I do like underdog stories! (NOTE: The trailer gives away a huge spoiler, so don't watch it unless you're on the fence about seeing this film.)
This is more than a boxing film. Although, trust me! There are plenty of fight scenes for those that like the sport. More importantly, Southpaw is the story of a champion who faces tremendous loss and must pick up the pieces of what is left of his world and career and salvage his life and, ultimately, his relationship with his daughter.
Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) and his wife Maureen (played by Rachel McAdams) both grew up as orphans, and, against all odds, made it big thanks to Billy's very successful boxing career. However, all the hits have taken their toll on Billy, and Maureen tries to persuade him to quit. When tragedy strikes, Billy loses it all and must overcome the fight of his life and dig deep to find the strength needed to pull himself out of this ditch. Yet, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. The hits he took in the ring are nothing compared to what life is about to dish out to him.
Gyllenhaal's performance is electrifying and probably the best of his career thus far. If not for very tough competition in 2015, I'm sure he would have received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Hope. The on-screen chemistry between McAdams and Gyllenhaal is tender, yet steamy, and young Oona Laurence, who plays their daughter, delivered a very touching performance in her own right. The film also stars the wonderful Forest Whitaker, Naomie Harris, and 50 Cent.
Southpaw is rated R for language throughout and some violence. To clarify, the fight scenes can be brutal to watch and are very bloody. If we need a reminder of why this "sport" should be illegal, this is it! Like I said, there is plenty of boxing for fans, but I like the film for the humanistic side of the story. The film is worth a watch, and not just for boxing fans.
Read more of my Nik's Piks: After Hours reviews.
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