The Fighter is finally reviewed by the major critics — and the reviews are positive, mostly. The Metacritic folks seem to be a bit skimpy with their ratings, however. The best they can squeeze out of this review by Owen Gleiberman is a 91. I don’t know; maybe it’s a 95 if it’s an A-? Gleiberman on the film and the performances:
That’s the question that drives The Fighter, and part of what makes the movie such a satisfying, emotionally rounded tale of pugilistic passion and family psychodrama is that the answer isn’t as simple as it looks. Wahlberg, doing his soft-spoken/explosive sensitive-bruiser thing, is perfect as the young man who must consider dropping his dysfunctional clan to triumph in the ring. And Bale, cadaverous and google-eyed, with a jack-o’-lantern grin and an energy so manic it borders on the obscene, finally takes the compulsion toward Method eccentricity that’s been driving him for close to a decade and makes it pay off. His Dicky is that rare thing: a wing nut with soul and a touch of tragedy, too. Melissa Leo, in a glue-spray bouffant, is vital as the kind of boxing-world stage mother who could kill a kid with love, and Amy Adams, as the bartender who becomes Micky’s girlfriend, has a spot-on tough-chick allure. There’s a certain predictability to The Fighter, yet that’s part of the appeal of the fight genre. This one, as thoughtful as it is rousing, scores a TKO.
More after the cut.
The LA Times’ Kenneth Turan praises Mark Wahlberg:
When compared to his brother, Ward is an icon of stability and yet another splendid performance from Wahlberg, who stabilizes the picture by bringing his trademark intensely masculine presence to bear as well as his deep knowledge of Ward and his socio-economic background. Wahlberg couldn’t be more convincing as perhaps the only sane person in a universe of addicts, losers and social misfits.
Mr. Bale‚Äôs performance is astonishing, in part because he so completely conquers a daunting set of physical and psychological challenges. Dicky is not only an addict but also an athlete in his own right, a former boxer who clings to, and endlessly relives, a single moment of glory. He tells everyone who will listen that he once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, and while the facts of the episode are in dispute, his pugilistic skill and intelligence are never in doubt.
In a crucial scene, having attempted a remarkably stupid caper, he finds himself fleeing the Lowell police, his long limbs flapping like a cartoon character‚Äôs as he high-tails it down the street. Then, as Dicky stops and squares off to throw an ill-advised punch, he snaps suddenly from clown to gladiator. You see that his core of talent and discipline has not been completely destroyed by drugs, even if his judgment and self-respect have. You also see that this funny, exasperating character is really a walking, flailing tragedy, for himself and just about everyone around him.
Somehow, with all of those good reviews, The Fighter still only has a 73 on Metacritic. It seems to be headed for great box office, though, with that cast and that subject matter. It might even make upwards of $100 mil, which puts it in great stead for a Best Pic nomination, if it wasn’t there already.