Viewed – 07 July 2011 Blu-ray
This initially caught my eye when it was in the running for several Oscars a while back. I recall Christian Bale scooped Best Supporting Actor. This true story follows the early years of boxer ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his training at the hands of his elder brother (Bale), former pro boxer Dicky Eklund, now a long-suffering crack-addict with dreams of making a come back. Ward struggles to carve his own path whilst living in the shadow of his brother, and only his father and girlfriend (Amy Adams) see what potential he really has.
At first I thought Christian Bale’s larger than life performance of the unhinged and unpredictable Dicky Eklund was a touch annoying, but taken into the context of Wahlberg’s more understated performance and the overbearing family both brother’s have to live with, I began to find the character very moving and believable. The story of Ward’s rise to fame is nothing new and some turn of events are predictable, but otherwise the acting and direction are faultless. Amy Adams as Ward’s gutsy girlfriend is excellent and (I have to say) sexy as hell, in a role far removed from her squeaky clean performance in Enchanted (the only other movie I’d seen her in), and Wahlberg is very good too, looking a natural in the ring. In many ways it’s a sad movie, where the mother (Melissa Leo) and sisters are unwilling to see what a car-crash mess Dicky has become and still think of him as a former champ who knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. The reality is that Micky is probably the better fighter, has less of the emotional problems and a better future, but as the younger brother, will never be seen in the same light.
As a tale of an unlikely sporting hero’s rise to fame, it remains one of the more honest and thought-provoking examples, and makes for an easy recommendation. For fan’s of Christian Bale at his most raw and compelling – it’s a must.
Verdict: 4 /5