Southpaw was easily one of my most anticipated films of this year, why I hear you ask. Simple, Jake Gyllenhaal stars. This guy has to be one of the most talented actors working today and he has been in some really fantastic movies. In recent years I think of Nightcrawler, Prisoners and End of Watch and of course there are older films such as Donnie Darko which can’t be forgotten either. So I was hoping that Southpaw could be added to Gyllenhaal’s very impressive filmography.
Reflecting upon the film I began to think of other films I’d seen which feature boxing as the main focus and I realised that I am not particularly well versed in this genre. The original Rocky movie and The Fighter are the only ones I’ve seen so I don’t have a lot to compare Southpaw to but maybe that’s a good thing. Anyway let me get to the point and tell you that I loved this movie and that it is probably my favourite boxing movie I’ve seen. As I expected Gyllenhaal was awesome here. Another physical transformation was clearly undertaken here, once again showing his dedication to his roles. The character he plays, Billy Hope, had many sides to his personality and character allowing Gyllenhaal to flex all of his acting muscles throughout the movie. He acted his character in a way to make him likeable but not untouchable from judgement which was the perfect balance. The other cast members all contributed brilliantly and there really was not weak link, even 50 Cent was believable in his boxing promoter role. Forest Whitaker, Rachael McAdams, Naomi Harris and Oona Laurence all perform very well and help to make the movie especially engaging and emotional.
Whilst I enjoy boxing movies, I usually watch them to focus on the characters, emotion and story and I was no different as I went into Southpaw. However, I found myself engaging with the boxing element much more here than before. I think this was due to the training sequences in which detailed moves were explained and practiced. This meant when matches were playing out on screen it made the action much more interesting and engaging. As well as this I have never seen the brutality of the sport showcased as much, whilst moments were hard to watch I thought it was really great how the negative impacts of this lifestyle were highlighted. The music featured was atmospherically appropriate with both James Horner’s score and Eminem’s soundtrack shinning in equal measure as they fitted so well with the film. As I have mentioned already the cast’s performances helped to bring a certain emotion to the story. Like all good fighting films there needs to be motivation and a back story. This element was handled very well in Southpaw having the viewer engaged from the word go. Thanks to the performances, the script and pacing the emotion rarely lets up and gives such an important framework to the boxing scenes.
It’s been a fair few months since we have had a film as good as Southpaw, this harps back to the start of the year when we got to see many of the Oscar favourites. Gyllenhaal has secured another fantastic film under his belt and can be proud of his work here, as can the rest of the cast and crew as this boxing drama is utterly engaging and powerful. It reaches to the same heights of MMA drama Warrior and is a film I shall be revisiting and recommending for years to come.
Rating – 9.5/10