“Southpaw” is like someone saw Rocky and blocked out all of the happy moments. Imagine those original films if it was nothing but Mickey dying, Adrian almost losing the baby and Apollo Creed getting his brain smashed out of his skull. Then, shoot it gritty and throw in a bit of urban flavor. I’d poke fun at Fuqua for the end product, but I kinda like the guy after “The Equalizer”. I’m just not sure this was the right film for him.
Jake Gyllenhaal is an amazing actor who seemed to be getting better at picking projects. I buy him as a rough boxer who is fighting against the odds. It’s just that he misses downtrodden and dives headfirst into “I’M GONNA DESTROY THE WORLD” territory. Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker work their asses off in supporting roles to try and make the film seem realistic and human. But, it’s not long before the film slips back into Straight Thuggin’ territory.
Boxing films are cheap, but they tug at the heart and make dudes feel emotion at the cinema. As dude cinema makes you feel human, it also has people getting their face busted open to make you feel like a man. Hell, Gyllenhaal’s kid in the movie doesn’t even get a chance to act like a real kid. She’s a cigar and diaper away from being an R-rated Baby Herman while dropping truth bombs on her father. I expected 50 Cent to tell her calm the hell down.
Your enjoyment of the film is going to be based on your ability to buy the machismo and feel that Fuqua wants to create. Unfortunately, the film is a puffed up wannabe strutting down the street shouting that it’s a badass. There’s nothing about the film that dares to be original or thoughtful. At times, I thought I fell asleep in the theater and was watching a rerun of a movie on TBS. But, I’m rough on modern dude cinema.
Release Date: 7/24/15