July 28, 2015

Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

I am having a hard time writing about Southpaw. I have tried writing this opening paragraph fifteen times already. I think the problem is that it is one of those movies designed to appeal to the mainstream audience, deliver a solid time, but not stretch any boundaries. It feels a bit more like a product than an artistic endeavor. I walked out of it without feeling all that attached to it. I was surrounded by people who seemed to love it, and on on hand I wish I saw what they saw, then I thought if I saw what they saw, it would have been a different movie altogether.

It is not that Southpaw is a bad movie, it is just that is the usual sports tale of redemption. It is about a boxer who is on top of the world, has his world crumble around him and then must get himself centered and work his way back up the ladder to redeem himself in the eyes of his loved ones and the world. There really is nothing all that special about it.

Southpaw is a movie that is made with a certain amount of skill. Again, it is not a bad movie. Director Antoine Fuqua knows what he is doing. The problem is that the movie does not aspire to be anything other than generic. It builds some good relationships, but it isn't enough to raise it above mediocrity.To its credit, the boxing scenes are well done and it has a good pace, it keeps moving along to keep anyone from becoming too bored.

The thing is that it takes shortcuts, things happen and it is on to the next scene without really letting it sink in. It is force fed in small chunks rather than being allowed to develop. Examples of this would be how quickly our hero has his fall from grace, it is a whirlwind, then there is the sequence where he loses his daughter to the system, it is over in a flash. These are things that should be allowed to simmer a bit, but it is rush on to the next bit.

If there is something good about this movie, it is Jake Gyllenhaal. He is one of those actors who always seems to knock it right out of the park. It is still a little hard to believe he was the star of Bubble Boy. He is an actor who I, for some unknown brain malfunction, never expect greatness from, but then he goes and delivers it. Sure, he is a bit constrained by the formula, but he still manages to get you involved in his story. It is pretty fascinating to watch and helps you forget Prince of Persia.

Southpaw has some nice father/daughter moments and some good boxing sequences, but when it comes right down to it, it is paint by numbers drama that will be forgotten a year from now. I already feel the details slipping away.

Mildly Recommended.

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