Southpaw: Not Another Rocky Movie

As with all good things, my vacation was coming to an end. Despite the incident in Lafayette, LA, we decided to catch the movie Southpaw. We saw the preview, when we went to see Ted 2. We immediately thought from the dialogue, it was going to be another Rocky III. We were wrong.

images-4The story is set in New York City. Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhall) is a boxer on top of the world.   Billy grew up in the foster system.   He met his wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams) in the foster system and they have an adorable 10 year-old, Leila (Oona Laurence). His entourage consisted of his friends from the foster home too. He has a wonderful family, friends, and a 43-0 record. After his last fight, Maureen begged Billy to turn down a 3 fight $30 million deal and leave the fight game out of fear of him becoming punch drunk in the very near future. Billy’s fighting style, is all offensive. He never blocks punches; however, he has managed to remain undefeated. The only problem is that a boxer, Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez), wants to challenge him for the title. Despite calling Billy out at his post-fight press conference, Billy ignores him. A few days after the fight, Billy attends a charity event for images-7the foster home he, his wife, and friends grew up in. When leaving, Escobar challenges Billy again to fight. Maureen successfully convinces Billy to ignore him, until Escobar strikes a nerve by referring to Maureen as a “Bitch.” Billy and Escobar start fighting in the hotel lobby. Both entourages enter the fray. An errant bullet fired by someone in Escobar’s entourage strikes and ultimately kills Maureen.

Billy is now left with a 10 year-old girl and no direction. Maureen always handled everything. To make matters worse, Billy’s accountant informed him that his income was drying up. Billy’s manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent), convinces him to sign the contract and fight in 8 weeks. Without Maureen there, Billy had no desire to fight and lost. Upset because his trainer stopped the fight, Billy assaults the referee and is suspended from boxing. Mains and his trainer go to Escobar’s team. Billy’s life continues to spiral out of control when his home, cars and other possessions are auctioned off and Leila is placed in foster care after a DUI and weapons possession arrest.

images-6Billy needed to get his life together if he was to get Leila back. He goes to a trainer, Tick Willis (Forrest Whittaker), to help him get back in the ring. After a great showing in an exhibition fight, Mains offers Billy the chance to win his title back from Escobar. With Leila back in his custody and Tick training him, Billy goes to Las Vegas to beat the man responsible for his wife’s death.

images-5This movie was well written and appropriately casted. The soundtrack rocks songs from 50 Cent, Eminem, and Bad Meets Evil.  Forrest Whittaker’s performance was above board as always. The young Oona Laurence’s (Leila) performance was very impressive. Her portrayal of a child losing her mother and lifestyle in the blink of an eye was wonderful. I haven’t heard this about any movie so far, but this is the “feel good” movie of the summer. I’ve got to come up with my own thing. Until then, I will borrow from Siskel and Ebert and give Southpaw two thumbs up. It may not garner attention from the Awards Academy; nevertheless, Southpaw is worth the trip to the movies.