When it comes to sports movies I set my expectations fairly low, they can’t all be as good as Caddyshack.
Southpaw is more than a movie about a boxer. The story shows how a man can be at the top of his game and have everything slip away. It also shows that he can come back and be better. Billy Hope is a champion but his own anger and rage becomes the trigger for an event in which his wife is killed. With his wife gone his world unravels, he loses a title fight, falls into deep dispair, and his daughter is taken away from him. Billy Hope has to change who he is as a boxer and a person so that he can get his title and daughter back.
Although the story is heartfelt it is a little over-done. Billy was born in prison, ends up a ward of the state, goes to prison, his wife was an orphan, he becomes a champion, he loses it all, drugs, alcohol, and then he gets it all back. All these factors seem baked in to make the story work and it comes off as a bit unnatural. What makes the movie is how well the movie is put together. With few exceptions, the fight scenes are very realistic and powerful. Jake Gyllenhaal shows true dedication to his craft not only in his on screen performance but also his off-screen work ethic. It must have been a phenomenal amount of effort to not only get into the physical condition needed but even more so to learn the fundamentals of boxing. As good as Gyllenhaal is in this film Forest Whitaker is better. Even with the smaller role, he delivers the integrity and drive of the movie by being the conscience that guides Billy Hope.
There is a personal connection this movie for me. No, I’m not a boxer. No, I don’t relate to the plight of Billy Hope and his struggles. I got to be an extra for this film. It was absolutely fascinating to watch the process and see the amount of work that gets put into a production like this. That was my main drive to taking part in this and my 15 minutes of fame as more like .15 seconds. If I look really really really hard I can find myself but it is very very brief that I am on camera. It is a marvel to me how what I was part of and witnessed was used and turned into the movie I watched. I have a much greater appreciation for actors, directors, and all staff involved in these productions thanks to this experience.
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A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.