Saw Southpaw on Saturday Night, and I was very divided about the film. Southpaw stars the impeccable Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and the amazing Forrest Whitaker. The film is about a boxer named Billy "The Great" Hope who is a 3-time light-heavyweight boxer, who loses his wife in a tragic accident. During his grieving, he loses his home, and his daughter, and must fight to be able to keep his daughter. The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus has Fallen, and The Equalizer) and written and produced by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy).
The film has a solid, yet somewhat generic, plot and all the characters are solid. Gyllenhaal's Billy Hope is an interesting character: a boxer who grew up as an orphan and has a need to take a lot of punches to fight harder and knock out his opponents. Hope's character is very similar to Rocky, but also (possibly indirectly) pays homage to angry boxer Jake LaMotta. Gyllenhaal does a great job of being a borderline punch-drunk boxer who loves his family as much as he loves fighting. It is definitely one of Gyllenhaal's finer performances, and the supporting cast does a great job of keeping the movie going, but Gyllenhaal is definitely the driving force behind this movie, and keeps it from being too generic or predictable.
Even though the plot and characters are solid, there isn't enough explanation behind some scenes, especially how quickly everything went downhill for Hope was almost too unrealistic. Literally, after his wife died, he somehow was addicted to drugs and then went bankrupt without explaining how much time has passed and how Hope got to that point. Also, there were certain scenes that dragged on that didn't have enough backstory to justify why there was so much dialogue over some topics.
This film had a decent plot, and Kurt Sutter does a great job of blending some classic story-telling with a modern twist to it, and is a fantastic character writer. However, since he is a series writer, it is apparent in the film that he wasn't able to truly develop some of the characters in the small frame of time he had with the film. The scene that appears in the trailers in which Hope's wife dies was also very poorly shot and edited, in which Fuqua attempted to create a frantic and chaotic scene, which didn't do a great job of capturing that. Long story short, this film is a little imbalanced, and doesn't give enough time for certain plot developments to unfold or truly be explained, and doesn't have a very good pace to it at certain points. If this show was made as a series, this would be one of the best sports dramas around, but it definitely isn't the film that it could have been. For all the Kurt Sutter fans, it's definitely not a great start if he wants to continue to write for films, and it isn't one of Antoine Fuqua's best films either. Let me know what you guys thought of the film in the comments!
Pros: Great cast and characters, solid story, and had a perfectly gritty tone for this story.
Cons: Not enough backstory, undeveloped plot points, not much character development, poor editing and direction.