Rocky retread still packs a punch..
Director Antoine Fuqua has directed a lot of distinctly average films since Training Day, and this combined with the fact that Southpaw was initially written as a vehicle for Eminem didn’t exactly have me jumping up in down in anticipation.
Plot wise, Southpaw stays very close to existing boxing tropes and takes precisely zero risks but boxing is a sport that lends itself to cinema more than any other and Southpaw is a success almost because of its predictability rather than inspite of it. Sometimes a hero to zero and back again story is all you want from an unchallenging movie.
So yes Southpaw is much more Rocky IV than The Fighter but with a strong performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and a brief but notable turn from Rachael McAdams, Southpaw is an enjoyable and easy watch.
Forest Whitaker is also excellent despite portraying a walking cliché in demanding trainer Tick Wills. Whitaker is at an age now where he is perfect for this kind of mentor role and he shares a strong chemistry with Gyllenhaal’s protagonist Billy Hope.
Not so hot in the other corner is Miguel Gomez who makes for an underwhelming opponent and also 50 Cent who once again proves he should stick to
rapping selling bottled water with a wooden and at times barely intelligible performance.
Southpaw is bringing nothing new to the table but when the script and the acting is so strong it barely matters.