Pummelled and battered by relentless genre clichés, by the time ‘Southpaw’ reached its grand finale, I no longer cared what happened to any of the characters.
Jake Gyllenhaal is an actor I have really enjoyed watching over the years. I thought him brilliant in Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and mesmerising in David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac.’
Gyllenhaal has been on the periphery of turning his unquestionable talent into leading actor material but, unfortunately, instead of delivering a knock-out blow in ‘Southpaw,’ he comes across as, please forgive the pun, acutely lightweight!
Gyllenhaal plays undefeated world boxing champion Billy Hope.
Hope and wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) epitomise the rags to riches story in that they are orphans from Hell’s Kitchen in New York and grew up knowing only a life of hard knocks and despair.
Disaster strikes for Hope when his wife dies in tragic circumstances. Hell bent on revenge, Hope starts drinking and sets out to kill the man he thinks was responsible for his wife’s death.
Predictably, Hope’s life starts to spiral out of control; and his fortune becomes depleted and he loses everything, including his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence), who is put into care.
Director, Antoine Fuqua, has rolled out some decent films in the last few years. Denzel Washington’s ‘The Equaliser’ was good but, unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Fuqua has been unable to recapture the magic that we saw in the brilliant ‘Training Day’.
‘Southpaw’ falls short of the quality of ‘The Equaliser’, never mind, ‘Training Day’. Instead of a hard hitting drama we get a film that is as predictable as it is clichéd.
Gyllenhaal doesn’t quite pull it off as boxer Billy Hope - I found him very difficult to understand at times.
In a bid to convey to the audience how punishing it can be to be a pugilist, Fuqua labours the point.
There seems to be blood seeping from every part of Hope’s face throughout the film. We get it! He got hit in the face hard. It doesn’t mean Fuqua should have Hope resemble an extra from ‘The Walking Dead’.
I disliked the film’s soundtrack immensely and it never ceases to amaze me that casting directors and production companies are willing to pay Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson to ‘act’.
Jackson has no acting talent whatsoever and, quite frankly, I always feel uneasy when I see him on the big screen.
The plot is so tried and tested that it was fatigued and boring.
Yes, there is still a place for boxing films in cinema but unfortunately ‘Southpaw’ is nothing to write home about.
The fight sequences, whilst enjoyable, are sometimes comical. Instead of going the distance this film should have been stopped in the early to middle rounds.