Southpaw is a boxing film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The film follows The light heavyweight champion Billy “The Great” Hope. Billy’s life is great. He has a beautiful wife and daughter, he lives in a mansion and lives comfortably. But once an altercation with a rival boxer results in the death of his wife, Billy becomes a savage beast. This causes him to lose his lavish lifestyle and his daughter. With the help of his new trainer, Tick Willis, Billy must change his ways to become champion once again and get his daughter back.
When I first heard about Southpaw it was after watching Jake Gyllenhaal give an unsettling performance in Nightcrawler. After seeing the film i quickly I wanted to see what he was doing next. Once I saw the cast and that Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day, was going to be at the helm, this quickly became one of my most anticipated films of 2015.
Southpaw is probably the most brutal Boxing film since Raging Bull. The film opens with an already battered Billy Hope with a swollen lip, a cut on his eye, and blood flowing straight into his mouth. Blood is sprayed all over the place in this film, I’m surprised that Jake didn’t just spit a mouth full of blood in the camera lens. The boxing scenes are brutal, but artfully filmed in a way that will make you want to jump out of your seat and cheer on either boxer. Along with the great boxing are the great performances. Jake Gyllenhaal is receiving a lot of attention due to his incredible body transformation, which is impress after the physique he had in Nightcrawler. Jake performance makes me believe that Billy is a boxer that has taken too many shots to the head in the way he slurs his words and is constantly mumbling. Forest Whitaker is also good as Billy’s new trainer Tick Willis. Whitaker pretty much does the same thing that he does in most of his films, but even Whitaker being Whitaker is better than most actors out today. McAdams isn’t in the film alot but for the scenes she is in she is great. Her and Jake probably have the best non-Boxing scene in the film when Billy’s wife Maureen is killed. The scene is heart wrenching seeing the two characters speak for the last time.
Where Southpaw suffers though is in the story. If you have seen any Boxing film since the 1970s, then you have seen Southpaw. Southpaw is just a basic underdog boxing film with all of the standard cliches. From the sleezy promoter to the training montage Southpaw just doesn’t do anything new with the genre, and is completely predictable.
Southpaw is a film filled with great performances, but unfortunately flatters from old Boxing movie tropes, which makes the story lackluster and boring at times.
2 out of 5 KOs