Southpaw marks Kurt Sutters first written feature after his Sons of Anarchy ended on FX last year after a glorious 6 seasons that left fans feeling that they needed to create biker gangs, i did. Originally in development back in 2010 it had Eminem to star as lead due to the fact that Sutter admired him so much that he wrote the entire film inspired off of Em but due to his focus on his music at the time and after putting the movie on hold for a few years he declined as he couldn't meet the workout requirements in time. His love for the script though kept him involved as executive producer on the films soundtrack featuring artists of his label Shady Records including himself as well as 2 pieces of the late James Horner in which this served as his last scored film.
Antoine Fuqua directs this drama, coming off of The Equalizer. His style here is somewhat new and fresh given the nature of the sport at hand. Theres some incredible shots captured with the Red Epic Dragon and a new approach in style for the final fight scene that puts you in the boxers shoes for a few brief scenes that work brilliantly as you feel the punches being thrown and received. Aside from Training Day this is my favorite feature from Fuqua thus far but keep your eyes out for The Magnificent Seven which he's shooting now for a 2017 release.
The casting choices work here with Jake Gyllenhaal replacing Eminem respectively as Billy Hope, pro boxer.
Rachael McAdams which I'm not a big fan of except in Wedding Crashers actually pulls off a somewhat believable Bronx accent serving as Billies loyal wife 'Mo' who only wants whats best.
Forrest Whitaker works well in any role for the most part and here he fits right in as the trainer Titus who provides a nice subtle emotional layer as not only the gym owner but the unofficial caretaker of the local neighborhood kids who train there as well.
Curtis Jackson plays Billies promotor Jordan, he doesn't have a large on screen presence but his role is impactful none the less and well played coming off of his cameo in Spy.
Some other notable castings are Rita Ora, Tyrese Gibson, Victor Ortiz and Naomi Harris.
While the story itself is nothing groundbreaking and people seem quick to dismiss is already as it currently has a underselling 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is a raw one at that and perhaps too much for people to truly appreciate or pay attention to. Its not a superhero movie, its not a video game adaptation, its not a teen move. Its a movie for those who want something inspirational or dare i say just different from whats being delivered as of late.
Not everything has to be commercialized and overdone so i found it more than refreshing to see this gritty drama. I went in with no expectations since Em dropped out but i still wanted to support it and i was blown away with what i saw. Its deeper than one may think. I wasn't expecting it to be as emotional or layered as it was. It may of been just me personally being able to relate to it but its still something i think everyone can appreciate.
A pro boxer that has it all...money and family...family being the most important...only to have it ripped away without warning. The turmoil that one goes through that only others that have been in the same situation can understand is depicted flawlessly here from my own personal experience. Losing something so meaningful to you with it being the drive behind your reason for living in this world would send you to the greatest lengths to seek redemption even if it means starting from the bottom all over again and thats exactly what this is about.
Ill say this...
If you like boxing at all then you will love this. If you like the cast mentioned above then you will enjoy this. If you like Sutter or Fuqua then you will like this as well. Now the important part, if you aren't living a perfect life and have had or still are having struggles of any kind then theres something that this can offer to relate to. The message is about overcoming obstacles even when you don't think theres hope...there is.
Corny i know but i can't name any recent movies that have made me feel inspired like this did and having a real feeling leaving a film is what its supposed to be all about...to make you feel something...Southpaw brings that back.