A Knockout Film
15A 123 mins
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson
Plot: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Willis to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.
Review: Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is 43-0, he is undoubtedly the best in his class but when he gets a challenge from upcoming boxer Miguel "Magic" Escobar (Miguel Gomez) during his post fight conference he quickly becomes agitated and unreasonable resulting in a terrible string of incidents that will lead to his life being truly turned upside down.
With his life pretty much destroyed he turns to the only trainer he knows that can train a great fighter, Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). Life gets harder for Billy for a while but only hard work and the will to get back in the ring and get his family back together will keep him going. First of all I want to mention Gyllenhaal's incredible transformation physically going from Nightcrawler where he played a low weighted insomniac to the muscular beast he is in Southpaw. Yes with trainers and the right diet its possible to do but you still need to have the determination to do it and like some fellow actors Gyllenhaal has no problem getting fully involved with his character.
As for his acting, well there is no surprise that he is being hailed for a possible award nomination as he does completely own his character very much to the point you could truly believe this has been his life. But a film isn't about just one actor in general and Southpaw thankfully gets that right. With a great supporting cast like Rachel McAdams as Maureen Hope, a loving and devoted wife as well as mother and Curtis Jackson as the very well played boxing promoter and agent Jordan Mains. But apart from Gyllenhaal's brilliant performance the two parts of equal excellence are that of Whitaker's Tick Wills, a flawed but ultimately honourable gym owner and trainer who despite his own issues helps the troubled lead, and Leila Hope played by the fantastic Oona Laurence who I would be surprised if she didn't receive an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress.
And rightly so as she plays the child part beautifully from her extremely emotional scenes to the moments of triumph and love. There have been negative thoughts about this film being too predictive, I've also actually read somewhere that people were upset that the film contained too much boxing, I mean come on really?! Yes it's predictable and yes there's no reinvention here but what this film does is tell a great comeback story and one that you can actually feel a part of. Very much in films like Rocky where you truly will the fighter to succeed, this film doesn't let you down and carries on the great legacy of boxing films we've had in the past. If you are looking for a new idea don't go, if you are looking for a great film with good acting totally go and watch it. *** 3 Stars