Southpaw (2015)


This film represents everything I love and hate about Hollywood. I’ll give it a fair rating. But let me be clear about one thing: The script is hot, soggy garbage. Calling Southpaw “trite” would be a serious understatement. It was definitely the most cliché, cookie-cutter production that I’ve sat through in a while. (I mean, the name of our protagonist — a light heavyweight boxing champ played by Jake Gyllenhaal — is Hope, for shit’s sake.) And the movie goes through all the typical motions we’ve grown to expect without unveiling a single unique quality.

But now that you know it’s traI did actually enjoy Southpaw. I never once wanted to turn it off. It’s bright and it’s shiny and it’s strangely well-acted (assuming you can overlook 50 Cent’s wooden role). It’s ultimately an uplifting flick — complete with angry/inspirational Eminem soundtrack — but the story puts a hurtin’ on the viewer during the first two acts. Rachel McAdams’ character is a breath of fresh air among the otherwise stereotypical cast, but she’s removed from the equation early on in what must be one of the saddest, most tragic death scenes in any movie. (And by lazily glossing over her murder, Southpaw inadvertently makes a rather searing statement regarding the pervasiveness of handgun violence in America.) Subsequently, Gyllenhaal’s tragic boxer loses custody of his daughter — a truly sympathetic role filled immaculately by young Oona Laurence — and he must do battle with his crippling anger management issues in order to get her back. Over the course of his inevitable redemption, he trains with a drunk, washed-up ex-boxer (Forest Whitaker) and mounts his comeback against the movie’s “villain,” a Columbian boxer played by Danny Henriquez.

For better or worse, this kind of shallow-but-engaging movie is what Antoine Fuqua is good at. The director takes terribly vapid scripts and turns them into halfway decent movies. Sometimes I fall for them (Training Day, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur) and sometimes I don’t (Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer). Southpaw is technically just another turd. But it’s also one of the most well-polished turds to come out all year — and it wrings a surprising amount of emotion out of its viewers. (Spoiler ahead.) It would have gotten an extra pot leaf if Hope had lost the big title fight at the end. I would have welcomed an unexpected sucker punch like that at the end of this ridiculously predictable flick.

Three pot leafs out of five:
Pot Leaf Pot Leaf Pot Leaf

Southpaw (2015)

2 thoughts on “Southpaw (2015)

  1. Jack Wolf says:

    I liked this flick! I think that the decision to name the lead character Hope was a concious choice that unapologetically acknowledged the structure the story they chose to use. While the framework of the story is as typical as they come, the emotional story was raw and delivered earnestly. The portrayal of the shock of losing someone and the chaos surrounding it felt very authentic. Unfortunately the power of this authenticity was rushed due to the need to move the story along. SPOILER ALERT HERE AFTER- I think this movie could have been great if it abandoned the typical and chose a new route. During the the scene of Hope training with Hoppy (interesting name choice), I envision how I wanted the movie to go. I wanted Hope to find more peace and redemption in learning to overcome his anger and be of service to the community rather than the typical “boxing ring of redemption.” The power to let anger and revenge go for sake of creating a more stable and balanced life for his daughter could beva much more compelling and dramatic finish. Its not as flashy but it could be profound. I think the level of acting (other than fiddy cent), and direction would have been up to the task!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha… I completely agree! I wasn’t sure if our boy Hope had “learned” very much by the end of the movie. He got back in the ring (rather unscrupulously, I might add) and won the fight. But it was unclear if he had really won the battle, war, etc. I think he probably needs to get back into anger management classes ASAP.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s