Southpaw was apparently originally conceived as starring Eminem in its main role, and I almost wished I lived in a world where that had happened.
Not that Gyllenhall isn’t good, he still gives a stunning performance, but for a film that relies so heavily on clichés and established routes, it would have been nice to have had that slightly unusual angle on it.
Billy Hope (Gyllenhall) is a boxer who has reached success, and is urged by his wife Maureen (McAdams) to quit while he’s ahead. After tragedy strikes, Hope finds his career and personal life crumbling away from him, and it’s only as he begins to pick up the pieces that things start to get better again.
As the above description may imply, this film hits all the Rocky-benchmarks, while adding heaps more pain upon its main character. This works to some extent: you as the viewer do want to see Billy claw his way up and get his life back together, but at some point it does almost feel like bad things are happening to him just to increase the tension. However, the film as a whole does seem to have almost as much heart as its protagonist, and the pluckiness of the effort made here shines through for the most part.
Fuqua is also a talented directed, although his works have normally been more action packed than this, and he’s also good at getting a diverse and distinctive cast together. With this much talent behind it, Southpaw may not be ground-breaking, but it is still a good movie, and one that can make you feel better about some of the smaller problems in your own life.