The Fighter Puts On A Masterclass in Acting

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in The Fighter. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

The performances from Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams in The Fighter are the very definition of a masterclass in acting.

Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a welterweight boxer.  Ward is managed by his mother, Alice Ward-Eklund (Melissa Leo), and trained by older half-brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale).  As far as his boxing career goes, Micky isn’t at a great point when he first meet him.  He’s the person that you defeat while you’re climbing the ranks.  In boxing technology, the term is known as “stepping stone.”  Meanwhile, Dicky is filming a documentary for HBO.  It is his hope that the documentary results in a comeback.

Where Alice and Dicky want good things for Micky, it turns out that Micky has some reservations with boxing against someone in a different weight class.  Put it this way: the boxing match doesn’t go their way.  Micky soon meets Charlotte Fleming (Amy Adams) and the two start dating.  There’s a lot of family drama that goes down shortly thereafter–resulting with Dicky ending up in jail.  Micky doesn’t realize it but he needs his family as much as they need him.

Christian Bale is one of the greatest actors of our time.  Bale is the type of actor that can lose himself in any given performance.  This film is no exception as the actor transforms himself.  Oh, does he ever!  It isn’t just learning how to speak with Dicky Eklund’s Boston accent but all the weight lost for the role.  To think that Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were once attached to the film!  Looking back nine years later, it’s very difficult to imagine anybody else playing the role of Dicky Eklund in The Fighter.  To date, it’s the only win in four Oscar nominations.

Both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo are very much Bale’s equal as far as turning in award-worthy performances.  It’s a shame that only one actress could win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress because Amy Adams is due for a win.  Regardless of awards, this film isn’t what it is without either actress putting in their all.

The relationship between the Mickey Ward and Dicky Eklund are the heart and soul of the film.  Moreover, The Fighter is one of the few narrative features that are as good as–of not better–the documentary that inspired the film.  It should not really come as a surprise that the film manages to hold up nine years later.

The Fighter does happen to fall into the category of being a classic underdog story but it doesn’t come anywhere to being a sports film cliche.  More than an underdog story, The Fighter is also a story about family–it’s because of this that it’s one of the best films of 2010.  We’ve seen a lot of boxing films over the years but everything comes together to make The Fighter one of the best boxing dramas in cinematic history.

DIRECTOR:  David O. Russell
SCREENWRITERS:  Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
CAST:  Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo

Paramount Pictures opened The Fighter in theaters on December 10, 2010. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.