Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Kurt Sutter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, Curtis Jackson
A champion boxer (Gyllenhaal) attempts to rebuild his family and his career after a devastating personal tragedy.
This movie is a somewhat typical boxing film written by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun). The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), and Forest Whitaker (Arrival). The cast also includes Curtis Jackson (Get Rich or Die Tryin’) and Oona Laurence (The Beguiled).
The writing in this movie has more lows than highs. The story seems afraid to take any chances that might take it from being a typical genre film about a boxer with issues. The initial setup is nicely done, but once the characters are introduced there is nothing much to get excited about. In keeping with the genre there is even an awkward training montage late in the film. The dialogue isn’t bad, but once again works within the predictable nature of the story. Playing it safe really hurts this one. Every time that the movie might have surprised me it chose to do the easiest and most obvious things.
Jake Gyllenhaal not only transformed himself physically, but also did a significant amount of research in preparation for the role. His performance shows the effort, and stands out as a highlight in an otherwise unimpressive film. His best counterpart in this one is the young Oona Laurence. Her performance is strong and she really impresses in the more difficult moments of the movie. Unfortunately the work done by McAdams, Whitaker, and Jackson is unimpressive. McAdams never feels right for her role and it takes away any authenticity from the performance. Whitaker’s role really didn’t allow him to do much more than play a character far too familiar to audiences. The cast wasn’t really able to elevate the material in this one, and the experience feels inauthentic and sometimes campy.
Unfortunately for Southpaw there are too many better boxing films out there. This doesn’t do anything from a visual standpoint to set it apart. All the visuals are solid, but there just isn’t anything exciting or new in the film. The same can be said for all of the other aspects of the production. It’s also unfortunate that this one came out so close to the far better Creed.
In the world of boxing films this one will likely be forgotten. While there are some cool moments, there are just better options out there. The weakness of the story is the major issue with the film. While fans of Gyllenhaal might enjoy his work, this just doesn’t come together in the end. I give this one 2 out of 5 stars.