written by Souranath Banerjee
My ratings: 4/5.
‘The more you get hit, the harder you fight’.
Well, that’s more or less the story of boxer Billy Hope’s life, both in and out of the ring.
Director Antoine Fuqua, famous for action films like Training Day (2001) and Shooter (2007) and The Equalizer (2014) comes up with a ‘boxing film’ this time.
Not a biography (as most boxing films are) but i bet you have seen such typical sports-redemption dramas before and there is a good chance that you already have guessed the basic story-line.
An arrogant man who cannot control his rage but life puts him in a tough spot and teaches him to be humble and take control of his destiny. And guess what – he eventually becomes a better man both professionally and personally!
Absolutely nothing unique in the script and regarding the all blood & sweat boxing showdown – we have seen better in films like Raging Bull (1980), Cinderella Man (2005) and even the Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky versions.
So now the big question is WHAT exactly is there in this 124 min film Southpaw that still holds our attention? HOW does it still manage to impress us?
The combination of Antoine Fuqua‘s direction and the music of James Horner (RIP) – Yes may be. But the real answer lies in the brilliant performance of the entire cast, especially Jake Gyllenhaal.
After his outstanding role in Nightcrawler as the skinny psychopathic crime journalist, Jake Gyllenhaal has now transformed himself into this all-muscle, super-fit, left-handed boxing champion Billy Hope.
The rage and the darkness in the character, the helplessness and the self-destruction, the empathy and love for his family and friends, the will to survive – Bill Hope is one complex character and no body could have portrayed him as good as Jake Gyllenhaal.
By the way, Eminem was supposed to play the ‘Southpaw’ and then Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner were all considered for this role!
And then there is the ever-beautiful Rachel McAdams (wife of Billy Hope); their chemistry in the beginning supports the entire film. Forest Whitaker as the teacher-figure gives his best. Even the child actor Oona Laurence belts out a terrific emotional performance.
50 Cent acts and Eminem sings!
Southpaw is the best redemption drama of this year, specially recommended for the boxing-film lovers.
It’s a perfect example of how you can take the same old concept and shape it into something awesome with sensible direction and sheer brilliant performances.