This is directed by one of the really hot directors these days in Hollywood, Antoine Fuqua, and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, and Rachel McAdams. So everything seems to be in order for a really good movie. And that is sort of true.
Southpaw a bit over two hours and being fair, about ninety minutes of this is thoroughly depressing and for the most part painfully slow. But being fair again, this movie does make a new move near the end, and does finish with an emotional flurry that saves this from being one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
This is the fictional story of a boxer named Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal). He is married to Maureen (McAdams). He is the light heavyweight champion of the world and is a ticking time bomb mentally. His fighting style is self-destructive and so is his personality. His short temper, fueled by his poor upbringing are his worst enemy in life, as well as his biggest asset in the ring. This combination leads him into a situation ends up with the death of his wife, and Billy becomes unglued.
He looses everything. All his money, possessions, his dignity and his young daughter to social services. So, he must figure out how to get her back, and find his way back to the top, or at least to a normal life. He hires an old goat of a boxing trainer Ted, (Whitaker), to help him find his way back. But will Ted do it? And will Billy accept the challenge?
There is a lot very underachieving about this flick. This is very slow, and very dark and depressing for much of the first hour especially. In fact, you may find yourself checking out of this early. But if you hang with it, there is a nice finish. This movie gets a real shot in the arm that it desperately needs from the introduction of Whitaker into it. But that takes a while, in fact entirely too long. His character and his performance is without question the best thing in this movie. Most movies are better with him in it.
But the last thirty minutes is darn good, and very emotional that will speak directly to many patrons who go, who know nothing about boxing. The relationship between our characters becomes very intense, especially between Billy and his daughter. This is a more modern version of a Rocky type movie, with new camera techniques, and a solid soundtrack that features the likes of Eminem. Somehow Fuqua finds a way to bore us and send us into the doldrums for most of this, but he also finds a way to pay us off handsomely at the end.
Southpaw. Add it all up, and it just is another movie that really should have been better than it is.