Happy Thursday MMT Family! I screened the new Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) film SOUTHPAW last week and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this quick review with no spoilers – but I’m committed, so I’ll try! Let me just start with this, I went in to the movie without reading anything, synopsis or otherwise, and only knew who the main players were and it was about boxing – of which I’m an avid fan. So I was NOT ready when the pivotal moment came – which I won’t spoil here, since I can’t find reference of it in any of the trailers released. And since I was the only person of color at a morning press screening, I stopped myself from fulfilling any version of the movie stereotype by talking out loud – so instead this was me literally:
Yes, both emotions shown were me, simultaneously!
In short, SOUTHPAW tells the story of Billy “The Great” Hope (Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal), a former Hell’s Kitchen, raised “in the system,” foster kid who made good on the American dream – marrying the love of his life (Rachel McAdams), starting a family, and becoming the reigning lightweight boxing champion of the world. Hope’s world gets interrupted by a tragic event, that triggers an immediate downward life spiral. Abandoned by many closest to him, including his business manager – portrayed by Curtis “50” Cent Jackson – Billy is forced to confront his own demons and manage his actions in order to take back his life – which includes requesting help from a retired fighter/trainer named Tick (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker).
Now I must be honest, the script is formulaic. You have the average kid who’s expected to do nothing with his life, does great despite his flaws, has life-altering experience, loses much, fights back with the help of a mentor, and finds redemption. And at times, I saw some parallels to other films – especially with Hope’s boxing nemesis, whose lines are reminiscent of Mr. T’s in Rocky III. However, the story definitely grabbed my attention after the pivot, and I couldn’t help but root for the main character to find his way back. Gyllenhaal really dug deep for this role, and his performance is certainly believable – can we talk just one minute about how cut he became for this role!? Yasss, Jake! 😉
And I don’t know about you, but I believe Curtis Jackson – aka “50 Cent” – has grown into a really good actor. Did anyone catch him in 2011’s All Things Fall Apart? You certainly need to find and watch that one if you haven’t.
I also mentioned that this is an Antoine Fuqua directed film, so expect it to be real, rough, and raw at times – especially with the fight scenes. Fuqua never pulls any punches, pun intended, when it comes to telling a story – so know that this one is not for the faint of heart, and takes you through a variety of emotions.
And as someone from the social work field, I have to say I nearly screamed during a court scene – but again I was the only POC in the theater so this was me (speaking in my head):
I’m down to offer any scriptwriter/director my consulting services when it comes to portraying kids in courtrooms – okay, that’s all I’ll say…no spoilers, I remember!
All-in-all, SOUTHPAW is an entertaining film with some great performances. It will feel familiar, because some things have been done before, but I still enjoyed it. You can watch a trailer for the film below and get additional info at the official website here.
Stop back and let me know your thoughts after you see the film! Until next thought, Thomasena