The film is about Micky Ward who, despite the film’s end, was not most famous for winning the lightly regarded WBU Light Welterweight title. He won against Shea Neary. Neary, maybe, wasn’t a complete bum but he wasn’t anything special and that fight wasn’t a particularly shocking win. Neary was BRITISH for God’s sake! Shocking wins are Spinks beating Ali, Douglas beating Tyson or Braddock beating Baer. Not a top notch American dropping a Brit like a sack of moldy potatoes.
Micky Ward’s story was more interesting than the formula. The movie DOES get at a lot of why; his brother, family etcetera but what Micky Ward is best known for are his three brutal fights with Arturo Gatti.
He lost two of those fights and, likewise, two of those fights sent both fighters to the hospital. I was baffled as to how you could make a movie about Ward and mention those fights with Gatti only as a postscript. I suggest this is because boxing movies MUST follow the Hollywood script—fighter has promise, fighter loses way, fighter gets another shot and then fighter triumphs. We have seen it a hundred times (usually not executed this well). I am, of course, doing something I would complain about if it were a reviewer discussing this—writing about a movie that should have been made rather than the movie that was made—but in this case I feel justified. And I am not a reviewer.
Such a story would require a more complicated script, I suppose, and in general poses some issues but issues that could be handled. How do you make a film about someone who lost two of three in his most noted fights? Especially considering he lost the last two. By concentrating on the fact he could have easily won them all perhaps? By concentrating on the fact he never quit and that the difference between being great and being regarded as great is an elusive thing that can be based on a butterfly flapping it’s wings as much as by any design. It is, to me, an integral part of the man’s story, as much as his older brother (who could have a movie made about him alone) and his family.
But, as I said, there is a lot to recommend The Fighter, even if it made me think of Invincible, which also featured Mark Wahlberg.