User Reviews (328)

Add a Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's got to be something magical at work here. Strictly speaking, there isn't a shred of anything remotely original in Southpaw's DNA. Boil the narrative down to its bare bones, and it's a tried-and-tested, tried-and-tired retread of the sports movie. It's not even metaphorically about getting back up after life knocks you down - that's literally the plot of the film. And yet, through Antoine Fuqua's sensitive direction, Kurt Sutter's punchy dialogue and some excellent performances, Southpaw somehow transcends its own generic limitations.

    We meet the scrappy Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) at the height of his career as a boxer. He's the undefeated champion of the world in his category, and after each match, he gets to drag his broken, bruised body home to his doting wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and adorable daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). It's a far better life than a kid born and raised on the streets could have hoped for. But, one terrible day, tragedy strikes. Practically overnight, Billy loses everything: his career, his lifestyle, and his family. Trapped by grief, depression and his grim circumstances, Billy must fight hard to get back on his feet and recover what he can of his old life.

    From an objective standpoint, Southpaw is almost breathtakingly old- fashioned and unoriginal. You've definitely seen it all before - arrogant athlete suffers an ignominious setback, and must gain some humility and a better understanding of the more important things in life before he can complete his journey towards redemption. Sutter's script seems to almost thrive on its many clichés. He saddles his protagonist with the weighty and completely unsubtle surname of Hope. When all seems bleak, Billy's scheming agent Jordan Mains (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson) deserts him for his chief rival. Billy acquires a gruff but trustworthy mentor in the form of Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). The film has even forgotten to explain - or take into account - its title, which refers to a stance adopted by left- handed boxers in the ring.

    And yet, for all its flaws, Southpaw is a compelling, touching and surprisingly truthful effort. Fuqua tackles the predictable elements of the story with such verve and sensitivity that he manages to make them more palatable. The director unearths the gnawing heartbreak in Billy's anguish, as he visits a daughter who has grown cold and unresponsive towards him. The relationship that develops between Billy and Tick has its obligatory share of training montages, but also features moments of genuine connection between the two men, as they drink, mourn and bond with each other.

    Though it never becomes what you might call a classic, Southpaw occasionally flirts with greatness. That's due almost entirely to its cast. McAdams channels her trademark sunshine and charm into a relatively thankless supporting role. Her energy and chemistry with Gyllenhaal add invaluable weight to the emotional stakes in the film, lingering long after each of her scenes with her on-screen husband. Whitaker, who could play his part in his sleep, thankfully doesn't do so. Instead, he's very present, suggesting a darker inner life to his character that's fascinating to watch. Laurence, meanwhile, is a great find. She plays every aspect of Leila - her innocence and vulnerability, as well as her resentment and steely determination - with a piercing, heartbreaking truthfulness.

    The main draw, however, is Gyllenhaal, and for very good reason. Frankly, no one would have expected him to take the part of Billy Hope, which had originally been designed with rapper Eminem in mind. And yet, Gyllenhaal once again proves with Southpaw, as he has done with his consistently bold and off-kilter career choices, that he might very well be the finest actor of his generation. In a complete turnaround from his skeletal look in last year's Nightcrawler, he's practically unrecognisable as the beefed-up, mumbly Billy, burying his own slim frame and fine bone structure beneath layers of weight and muscle. Beyond the physical transformation, however, are Billy's darker demons. It's here where Gyllenhaal excels, as Billy taps into, releases and, ultimately, learns to temper the almost blinding rage that both drives and traps him.

    Truth be told, there are better movies out there about boxing and/or redemption. This isn't Rocky, much less Raging Bull. But, somehow, Southpaw pulls off that weird, difficult trick of being predictable but compelling at the same time. The ending may never be in doubt, but there's a certain pleasure to be derived from the journey. If all else fails, watch this for Gyllenhaal, who's currently doing some of the best, most vital work of his career.
  • We can always criticize Hollywood for bringing movies that are intended to toss some smoke to the viewer by presenting something new with repeated formulas and recycled plots we have seen somewhere else before. The same goes for "Southpaw"... apart from the fact that there's something more lying inside this story about a boxer's redemption. The answer to it is the trust it puts into the strength of its actors and the gripping emotions that come with it.

    There's a little sparkle that starts to light up inside of us during the very first minutes of the movie. And even if we barely have the time to see Gyllenhaal and McAdams' characters, we didn't need more because we were instantly dragged towards an emotional charge that never abandons the plot and whose "legacy" is carried on the main actor's shoulders.

    Gyllenhaal doesn't skip a beat and keeps his character's pain and rage constantly vivid in every detail - we feel it because we've somewhat experienced in our lives what it means to lose someone we love and feel lost afterward. We felt the struggle coming after the loss of a bond as strong as that one. That's why his performance is relentless and immaculate.

    Truth is that the genuine side of "Southpaw"'s plot is based on the main character's fall and his irreproachable route to stand up again, reach the top once more. Only this time, the fight has completely changed and the goals are different, goals that make us question what we really fight for in our life.

    You already know this story but not told under these terms. Hollywood has crafted good flicks about fighters/boxers in the last few years and "Southpaw" follows a line that is close to the more recent "Warrior", starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy due to its "underdog" screenplay. What makes this movie different from the rest is the ineluctable emotion that never departs and befalls us, stirring and stirring our inner feelings.

    We don't always need to criticize a movie for its predictability. "Southpaw" is predictable but it's also honest in assuming itself as such because its purpose - and I believe, Antoine Fuqua's purpose - is to divert our attention towards something more meaningful. And when a movie pierces the bone to reach our heart and soul with this impact, then it deserves our respect and acknowledgment.

    "Southpaw" is, quite simply, liberating.
  • Southpaw follows Billy "The Great" Hope, the reigning junior middleweight boxing champion, having an impressive career, a loving wife and daughter, and a lavish lifestyle. However, when tragedy strikes, Billy hits rock bottom, losing his family, house and manager. He soon finds an unlikely savior in Tick Willis, a former fighter who trains the city's toughest boxers. With his future on the line, Hope fights to reclaim the trust of those he loves the most.

    Antoine Fuqua has most certainly brought his charm back into the ring by bringing a fascinating boxing drama to the big screen. Even though it may have a all to familiar plot when it comes to the formulaic boxing aspect, this film really smooths out well with such heavenly storytelling, we are given a accurate accusation of how something can affect someone in the hardest way possible.

    Jake Gyllenhaal giving a ferocious performance as a down on his luck boxer was truly a grand experience. He really stuck to his character by bringing such a mad man to the ring and a man who would strive to make his family a whole once again, one wondrous performance I must say. One person other than Jake that really stood out was Forest Whitaker, he easily gave one of the best performances of this year so far!

    The boxing scenes were so enthralling, they involved such wall-to-wall burst of punches with spraying blood and Fuqua's gutsy camera skills that keep you motived the whole time. Jake snorting like a mad bull, he surely brought out the horns to each opponent with a raging force, these scenes were just so highly entertaining that they made your heart pumping with such adrenaline.

    I was not bored at all with Southpaw, I was invested the whole time. Even with its clichés, the film surely beats them down with mighty performances by its lead and supporting cast and cosmic storytelling. The drama was foretold fluently with a good take at how a family can fall apart and reconnect in such a turn of events, I loved that, it flowed along so ideally with a strong tone. In the end, SP is surely a spellbinding film towards a strong man that doesn't get knocked down by what life has to swing at him!
  • I guess there is just no new way of telling this story. A boxer on top of his world loses everything in the blink of an eye, then battles his way back. Every trite plot wrinkle is there. Every sympathy trigger is there. The writing is not bad. The story is as well told as it can be, but the story just does not need to be told again.

    Jake was great. His transformation from the pale, ghoulish "Nightcrawler" to a ripped pro boxer is startling. His portrayal of the punchy, brutal fighter on a journey of redemption is every bit as good as one could expect. Top marks for Jake. And the boxing scenes are as bloody as you could ask.

    So there are some good things in a very predictable movie. Overall, go ahead and watch it and enjoy it for what it is. Just don't expect anything new.
  • Wow. This is actually an incredible movie in which Gyllenhaal delivers an Oscar worthy performance.

    It's kind of an emotional rollercoaster which gives you the best of the two different worlds in boxing and drama. A comeback story at its finest. The father-daughter relationship gets me the most.

    I've seen this movie more times than I can count and it still amazes me that Jake Gyllenhaal didn't even got nominated for this one - he is outstanding!
  • Billy Hope is the light heavyweight champion of the world with a 43-0 record. One day, as a result of his uncontrollable violent temper, tragedy after tragedy hits him and his family until he is left with nothing -- not his fortune, not his career, not his family. Despondent and desperate to get his life back, Billy swallows his pride and seeks the assistance of trainer Tick Wills to train him back to fighting form.

    "Southpaw" is an acting showcase for its lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal. Last year in the film "Nightcrawler", Gyllenhaal gave us all the creeps with his very realistic portrayal of sociopathic pseudo-video journalist Louis Bloom. He was overlooked at the Oscars of the Best Actor nomination he clearly deserved. With this meaty role, Gyllenhaal set out to prove that that his transformative performance last year was not a fluke at all.

    His performance here as Billy Hope is another triumph of his very serious and committed method acting style. Here, Gyllenhaal again undergoes a total physical transformation into a grizzled prizefighter with a buff hardened physique, scarred face and swollen eye. We feel every ache of his weary body as he shuffles in his gait. His speech is already slurred with probable nerve damage. We see and sense the ravages of his vicious sport on him.

    He captured the character of an impulsive man who was not too savvy in life, and easily driven to violently angry tendencies. As Billy's world collapses around him, Gyllenhaal brings us all down to his hell with him. We totally see the unraveling of a man until a mere shadow of him remained. Then we would witness how he humbles himself as he tries to bring the shattered pieces of his life back together again. This was in addition to all the pounding he had in the boxing ring itself. This was truly an acting tour de force by Gyllenhaal which simply cannot be ignored.

    The actors in supporting roles all share in Gyllenhaal's shine. Despite her name being so prominent in the poster, Rachel McAdams appeared on screen only for a very short time. In that limited time, we clearly see the effect of her strong character Maureen on her husband Billy. Bespectacled little Oona Laurence plays their spirited daughter Leila. Gyllenhaal and Laurence share some pretty intensely emotional scenes together.

    Forest Whitaker plays Tick Wills, the tough disciplinarian of a trainer whom Billy chose to bring him back on track. I thought it was clever how they even include Whitaker's left eye into the story. Curtis "50 Cent" Smith plays Billy's fair-weather manager Jordan Mains. He really has this sleazy vibe about him with his flashy smile and shiny suits.

    Director Antoine Fuqua effectively wrung all the right emotions out of this story. The storytelling is well-paced and the camera work is compelling. The fight scenes were well-choreographed and executed on screen -- very brutal, bloody, all with high tension. The first person point of view during the fights puts you right in the midst of all the action.

    The musical score contributes so much to the drama of this film. This is also the last film James Horner scored before his untimely demise in a plane crash recently. We also hear Eminem rap in the soundtrack. It is interesting to note that Eminem was actually the original choice to play Billy Hope.

    Boxing is a common sport tackled in movies because of its inherent drama. "Rocky", "Raging Bull", "Million Dollar Baby" and "The Fighter" easily come to mind as among the best of them ever made. This is why we may feel we have seen this story In "Southpaw" told in another way before. However, the grippingly honest acting of Jake Gyllenhaal definitely set this film apart from others. He made "Southpaw" a most extraordinary boxing film to watch. 8/10.
  • I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening of this movie, and I was extremely glad I did. After watching the previews I felt as though a lot of the movie was given away, but I was blown away by the performances on screen. The movie was centered around a champion prize fighter hitting rock bottom, and slowly climbing his way back into the ring. It was an emotional journey that cannot simply be categorized as a movie about boxing, but rather, an inspiring and riveting tale of parenthood and a father's love for his daughter. The cast was excellent and everyone excelled in their roles. I wouldn't have expected to like Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in a role as much as I did. Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker had Oscar worthy performances. Everyone did a great job with their roles. The cinematography was fantastic, and the fight scenes gave some great first person shots that made you feel as though you were there in the ring fighting along side the actors. Overall, this movie is an experience that is not to be missed. 9/10
  • dustinhenson24 August 2015
    Southpaw is a drama/sports film directed by Antoine Fuqua and stars Jake Gyllenhaal. Although clichéd, the way the story of this film is told is what makes it great. The acting was great throughout the film especially by Gyllenhaal and ,surprisingly, Oona Laurence was fantastic. The film was well directed. Especially the boxing scenes themselves were shot very well and did a good job of really putting you in the shoes of the fighters. The dramatic scenes were done very well but we're very dark and depressing. This is not a light hearted film by any means. It deals with very sad subjects and is very gritty. On the negative side of things there is not much to say. It was well paced, well directed, and very well acted by everyone. It earns a solid 8/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a previous fighter, this movie is a disappointment. The movie stereotypes boxers as hyper-aggressive characters who need vice and aggressive behavior to handle the short comings thrown their way. Gyllenhaal's performance was pretty impressive in contrast to his previous roles, however it does not save the movie from its bad writing and directing. Although some of the boxing sequences aren't bad, some of them are awful and some are impressive, good fight sequences don't make a story great, and for that matter, a movie.

    The movie just doesn't have a very credible story, as Billy Hope accepts fights as early as 4 weeks away from one another, not nearly enough time to actually prepare for a new opponent. His wife takes on the "momma knows best role" as she makes the majority of decisions for him and his family, including their decision for Him to stop fighting, and when she is accidentally shot, Hopes life spirals out of control. After engaging in a spree of self- destructive behavior, CPS takes custody of his child until he can prove that he is a responsible adult. Normally, this would imply that the movie should be about the Hero overcoming and conquering himself and his aggressive habits. He is instructed to go to Anger Management classes, which are not present in the film, and gets suspended from professional boxing after head-butting a referee, after his corner throws the towel in for a fight.

    After losing his luxurious lifestyle from not having the cash to pay for his bills, he finds a new gym that is ran by Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) so that he may teach young men how to box in hopes that it will lead them to grow up and become responsible men. Billy Hope cleans the gym at night for a job and trains with Tick in the mornings so that he can improve his image and possibly get a few side fights. After fighting for a charity event, Hope's agent (50 cent) finds him yet again pressuring him to get back into the ring, that he can get his suspension lifted and makes a $30 million offer to fight Miguel Escobar only 6 weeks away, a disgustingly short amount of time away to prepare for a fight. Understandably, these quick fights are supposed to represent the greed of his Agent making money, but fights like this at the professional level, at the championship level do not happen this quickly, ever.

    Billy Hope takes the offer and continues to train with Tick Wills, but for this upcoming fight, it's back to fundamentals. During a montage with Eminem in the background, Billy Hope is working on basic things like stance, bobbing and weaving, blocking punches, blocking punches with your shoulder and other very basic things like that you couldn't have previously won a championship without, that apparently Billy Hope did. Meanwhile, Miguel Escobar is doing hardcore ab-workouts, and going hard on a double-ended bag, things that real professionals work on, also things that you couldn't otherwise do at that speed, without previously working on basic things like Billy is currently working on. Billy also works on boxing Southpaw upon Ticks suggestion.

    Night of the fight, Billy and Miguel go at it, it is a very close one, and of course Billy Hope is hit with a low blow and whenever Miguel can't win the round, he mentions something to Billy about his wife which causes him to get very angry. Round 12 comes around and after a long round Billy connects and then connects again with a left handed uppercut.

    The movie shouldn't be named "Southpaw" just on the premise that the winning punch was left handed. I really thought I was coming in to see a really awesome Southpaw performance out of Jake Gyllenhal, as those fighters give a different dynamic to a fight; Southpaws screw everybody up, even other Southpaw fighters, because everyone is used to fighting right-handed fighters. I give this movie a 5 because it plays on stereotypically, hyper-aggressive male behavior in boxers, and because the story just wasn't very credible. Impressive fight- sequences don't save a movie from the use of too many melodramatic scenes of one on one dialogue.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Forced clichés and unrealistic scenario

    Here you have it, I described the hole movie on the title. This movie is unbelievable bad. We watched it yesterday and we literally couldn't believe how could they messed so bad.

    The movie attempts to include as much clichés as possible, but this is not the real issue. The real issue is that the clichés are really forced into the script and presented totally unrealistic. Let's examine:

    1. The boxer (Hope) is hyper-aggressive. OK so this boxer is the top dog with 40+ victories but he never learned to block....

    2. His wife gets murdered and no one is blamed. This part is where the story really goes downhill! Hope and his wife were on a philanthropic event inside a casino. The arch enemy of the boxer after the event start to talk smack about the boxer's wife and they start to fight. So far so good. Out of nowhere someone of the arch-enemy's bodyguards draws a gun and accidentally kills the Hope's wife. WTF, how is even possible to have a gun inside a casino? And why he draw a gun? To shoot the protagonist? Inside the casino? With people watching? And why shoot him, wasn't the whole plan of the antagonist to start this fist fight?

    Then the woman dies on the floor and nobody does anything to catch the killer! No one of the hundreds of attendees saw anything! And the protagonist don't even try during the rest of the movie to bring the killer to justice. The directors wanted a dead wife to build a sad story but they made no attempt to design a realistic death or a realistic aftermath of the murder.

    3. The ultra successful boxer after his wife death loses one fight and punches the referee. This incident is enough from turning him from super rich living to a huge mansion with a collection of luxury cars to completely financially broke. WTF? This forced misery in order to build an arch is so laughably unrealistic!

    4. Hope crashes his car on a tree on purpose and his kid is immediately removed from his custody. Why? He didn't harm any one else but himself and the car. He crashed inside his garden so he caused no threat to anyone else for crying out loud! The kid that until that point loved her father and cried her eyes out when the jury decided to separate her from him, after one week away from the father, now hates him!.... Is this a parody, because if it is, well done!? The only justification from the kid's hate towards the protagonist is a line of the kid's therapist: "not everything revolves around you, you should respect her emotions"

    5. Latter on a young boy boxer (Hoppy) dies in a tragic family incident and the protagonist with his trainer soak to tears. Another forced cliché in a pathetic attempt to make the viewer feel sad. Hoppy before his death had a total of 1 minute on-screen time and there was no build up to his death, just a quick "I heard there were some fighting between his mom and dad". No one was invested on the kids life so seeing the protagonist and the trainer cry didn't do anything emotionally to the viewer. In my opinion this sub-plot should have been completely removed. If you don't have time and interest to build a decent sub-plot, don't include it on the movie. It just looks like a cheap attempt to make the viewer feel sad.

    OK let's move on and talk about the antagonist (Miguel). Same pattern here, rushed and forced. We are introduced to the antagonist at the start of the movie where Miguel start taking smack to Hope during a press conference. The antagonist just stands on the crowd and asks for a "real" match between him and the protagonist. When we saw this part of the film, no one knew who this is, he might as well be a drunk who managed to pass security. Why the protagonist was upset after-wards? Nobody knew.... In fact there is no descent explanation of the hate between these 2 characters. Also throughout the film Miguel is just there to serve as an arch-enemy. No character build up, no back story, nothing.

    All this points are show stoppers so there is no need to talk about anything else about this movie. My three star rating is for Forest Whitaker (the trainer) who tried inside this mess of a movie to give a solid performance.

    One last thing, at the end Hope wins with an unexpected move, Karate Kid anyone?!
  • This will be short, Southpaw is about as straightforward as you would expect from a boxing movie. A once great fighter falls into despair only to be given another chance at redemption in some sort of title fight. This movie hit just about every single plot point you would expect it to. And that's what makes Southpaw feel so dull and unengaging, it holds too few surprises. He gets beaten down again and again only to find redemption later in the movie just as expected. This is the type of movie where if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie, period!

    But to no surprise, however, Jake Gyllenhaal is the saving grace of the movie (the 5/10 score would certainly be lower if he had not been in this movie). He is physically committed (looks like a complete beast), but is also able to bring the necessary emotional state the character required. If he had not been in the movie, this would have been a complete disaster. He totally fit the role of the down on his luck boxer, but more importantly hit the role of the damaged father even better. And even though we know exactly what is coming to our 'hero', the performance by Gyllenhaal makes it seem a tad more enjoyable.

    At the end of the day, you've seen a ton of movies like Southpaw. You could probably predict the ending of the story based on the trailers alone. Even though Jake Gyllenhaal gives it his all, the movie can't help but fail because of the extremely generic script.

    Instead, go watch The Wrestler again!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As with most sports dramas, Southpaw is a film more about the man than the sport. Labelled by many as the 'modern day Raging Bull', I had high hopes for Southpaw and thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal, it duly delivered. This is a tale of one man's path to redemption through boxing.

    Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the Light Heavyweight champion of the world and a boxer known for his unique style and impressive fight record. When his wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), is shot dead following a scuffle with title contender Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez), both Billy's career and personal life go in a downward spiral that sees him both lose his boxing licence and his daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), to child protection services.

    Billy turns to trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to help him get his life back on track. Carry on down the same path and Billy could lose his daughter forever however, putting his focus into a return to boxing could see Billy regain everything he lost after the death of his wife.

    As mentioned before, the film focuses more on the man than the sport however, Southpaw is one of the only boxing dramas I have seen where the sport of boxing actually feels like a character in the film, not just a backdrop for the drama.

    Southpaw does become a bit predictable and features quite a few clichés, which can't be helped in this genre, but director Antoine Fuqua does a good job in making sure Southpaw has a bit of a cutting edge to it. This is a hard hitting drama that isn't scared to throw the hardest of punches at its audience.

    After leaving the cinema, I read that Eminem had been lined up for the role of Billy Hope when the film first came into production. How different a film that would have been. I could not be more thankful that the studio decided not to follow through with that and instead decided to cast Gyllenhaal in the role instead.

    Gyllenhaal is an actor who makes it clear that he takes his roles very seriously and you can see that from the transformation he has put his body through, becoming almost unrecognisable from the skinny Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler. His gruelling six month training regime certainly makes him look like a boxer but his decision to learn the boxing techniques means he moves like a boxer too, making the performance even more authentic.

    The transformation would mean absolutely nothing without the performance to match though. As expected, Gyllenhaal gives an absolute powerhouse of a performance in Southpaw that really raises the quality of the film because without him, this would be quite an average film. I struggle to think of an actor right now on a hotter streak in Hollywood than Gyllenhaal.

    Forest Whitaker, as usual, adds a quality to proceedings and Rachel McAdams does a fine job in her small role, which would have been better if we hadn't seen her characters outcome in the trailers. Oona Laurence gives an impressive performance as the young Leila and I didn't even mind 50 Cent or Rita Ora being cast in the film.

    The boxing sequences are very good as well, with the use of POV shots in particular injecting the sequences with adrenaline and making the audience feel every single punch thrown.

    While Southpaw isn't the masterpiece that Raging Bull is, it certainly sees Fuqua make his best film since Training Day. Led by another top performance from Gyllenhaal, maybe Southpaw will make the voters this awards season stand up and take notice of his talent, not ignore it like they did with Nightcrawler.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I started to watch this movie hoping that it can be a good fighting film, but it didn't fulfill my Hope.

    We are introduced to a world champion who won 44 fights and who CAN'T DEFEND/BLOCK AT ALL. Well.. it doesn't need much comment. They didn't even bother to show any single block in his first fights. No one who has ever seen or especially if you are interested in boxing fights can treat it as something probable. Box is mostly a game of tactics and technique, where most of the punches are either evaded or blocked. Very many punches reach their target. Unlike in this movie. So he gets to the top again by.. learning how to use a block. Woow. And they even invented some crazy way of covering your face by raising your shoulder. Yeah.. it's a really great way to do that. A pity none of the real boxers uses it. Probably it's because it doesn't cover the face at all and the only effect of it is that you can't use the arm you raise to effectively punch. So it's just a movie bluff. There are many other things.. he's given a title fight immediately after his ban is over. Some addicted woman is pointed with a gun by the main character and she takes a newborn to cover herself.. yeah, that's also a probable reaction. And many other small things.

    In the end, the movie is just very predictable. It tries to aspire for a good "fall and rise" movie, but it fails. The only things this movie is "good" at it some street rap music and naked chests to attract female audience. A pity.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Strengths: Gyllenhaal's fantastic performance Weaknesses: Grotesque and Compounding Clichés, over revealing trailer, uneven supporting characters, narrative familiarity...etc, this was a bad movie.

    A paradox, contradiction, how could Gyllenhaal team up with director Antoine Fuqua? The actor that has come out with some of my favorite films in recent years teams up with the director of The Equalizer, and Olympus has Fallen to do a boxing movie? As many of my readers know, last year's NightCrawler blew me away and was my favorite movie that year, and the year before Prisoner's was my favorite movie, and the year before End of Watch was among my favorites of the year. Even with one of my favorite actors, Jake Gyllenhaal, I had low expectations, and even those weren't met.

    Southpaw begins with crazed boxer Billy Hope in his pre fight mindset, getting his fists wrapped before using them. His headphones are in and they are loud, muting everything else out with pure adrenaline, then his wife Maureen, played very efficiently by Rachel McAdams, enters. Everyone leaves the room and she takes off his headset and tells him to not getting punched too much, their is an obvious connection between these two that is magnetic. Strong start that raised my eyebrows due to my doubts coming in.

    What ensues is a rocky reincarnate, all punch and no block brawl. In the HBO telecast, there is a hint at another boxer, Miguel Escobar, and that the winner of this fight will hopefully get to fight him. This really takes the steam out of the opening fight, up to that point I honestly wasn't sure if Gyllenhaal was going to win or not, but that unnecessary add-in blocked the intensity of that scene. Escobar really wanting to fight Hope, challenges him in a mocking way at the post fight press conference and by the logic of this movie, just because he won that fight. The fight made him 42-0, really who wants to fight a 41-0 guy? Billy speaks at a charity that supports orphans, which him and Maureen were growing up. Escobar is in attendance and kind of apologized to Billy for how he acted but Billy just brushes him off, which upsets Escobar and he says some disgracing things about Maureen. Well naturally being boxers, this leads to a battle royal of sorts between Escobar, Hope and their crews. In the process Maureen gets shot and dies.

    You may think that is a spoiler but it really isn't, THEY SHOW IT IN THE TRAILER, I know right...stupid. The whole way leading up to that could of been really solid for all I know, but I don't know because whatever dumb executive who made the trailer gave away the emotional climax of the movie. Everything preceding has been a worn narrative throughout the years...with the perfectly loving parents who have the perfect relationship. It would of worked if I didn't know the big event, but the trailer gave it away and I just saw Fuqua amateurishly build to get the emotional return. Looking back on it, that relationship really did work and I don't want to blame the movie, for the misstep of the trailer, so I just upped my rating a little bit after further thought. Adams and Gyllenhaal...sparks fly between the two.

    The rest of the movie turns into a tragedy of Hope's life and his fight for custody of his daughter so she doesn't follow in her fathers footsteps of being an orphan. He goes to train at Wills gym and meets the owner Tick (Forest Whitaker). Together they train and fight to get both their lives back on track for the people around them. Really promising stuff and in more talented hands would of worked, but Southpaw stalls to a melodramatic bore in the middle. But wow, I went this long and haven't talked about Gyllenhaal, he was great Not shocking. Not surprising, he was completely lost in this role (which is a good thing) and I forgot it was him, just as what happened in Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhaal truly has been the actor of the past 4 years. Then Fuqua almost squishes the enjoyment of the performances out with all to used clichés around every single corner. Since his 2001 Training Day, Fuqua has been hackish and has squandered many promising movies. The narrative is completely by the books here, other than the devastating climatic moment given away before you even got to the theaters, and there are some side stories that go on that are laughable due to the poor misplacement. Supporting characters do things that are so uneven with the character laid out for them. Potential complex characters were given way by temptations of clichés and lesser cinema.

    If you go to Southpaw, go searching a character study of Gyllenhaal's Billy Hope, that is the only reward this movie has to offer.
  • Southpaw is a movie about the successful boxing champion Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) whose life begins to fall apart because he cannot control his high temper.

    To begin with, the story line is simple and not very original. The protagonist who has everything suddenly loses everything and needs to find a new way to win it all back. Haven't I seen this before? And I'm not even talking about movies in general. Actually, one can find boxing movies with a very similar story (for instance Rocky II or Raging Bull).

    The characters depth is nothing near to the ones we see in "Raging Bull" or "Warrior" (movies in which motivations and reasons of characters are more complex and interesting). In Southpaw, the characters lack depth, thus they become a tad boring. Personally, I felt like flat character design was one of the main issues of this movie. Furthermore, you always felt like someone already told this story in a much better way. Why should I waste my time to watch a poor remake? Naturally, this sounds harsh and may be a little exaggerated, but I honestly believe this is the major aspect of the movie that annoyed me – unoriginality and the incorporation of many clichés.

    I would still recommend you this movie, only because of two people: Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker. These two tremendous actors made this movie not a total waste of time. As aforementioned, Gyllenhaal plays in the lead, portraying the struggling fighter Billy Hope. It is a stupendous performance from a brilliant actor. Although the character is partly despicable and should be hated, one does still feel for him. That is the work of a master in his craft. Academy Award winner Whitaker plays Tick Wills, an older gym owner who later becomes Billy's mentor and new coach after his demise. The relation between those two characters is the best one in the whole movie. What happens when chaos and fury meet experience and discipline? These two spectacular actors were the absolute highlight of the movie, which makes it a bit frustrating to see so less of them on screen. The filmmakers rather concentrated on Billy's relation with his daughter than on the one I found deeply entertaining.

    This leads to my other point. I found that the role of Oona Laurence was a miscast. She plays the daughter of Billy and is devastated after a certain incident. Things between her and Billy do not work quite well (I can just recall, "Haven't I seen this before?") The only scene of this side story that touched me was when Billy got slapped in the face by his own daughter. That's it, nothing more. Moreover, I did not like Laurence in the movie. No offense, but she was not very convincing and rather annoying.

    On the other hand, I thought that the rest of the cast delivered. Rachel McAdams and even 50cent impressed me – gorgeous casting.

    All in all, the movie was nothing exceptional or anything to remember. I think "average" sums it up pretty well. Southpaw did not quite live up to my high expectations, although having some great actors on board. What you see was nothing original or mind-blowing, it felt like a bad "Raging Bull" spin off. I can still recommend the movie to people who love sport movies in general and want to see some great acting. Otherwise, leave it and don't watch it. 6/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **SPOILERS***

    This movie is packed with a 1-2 combination of cliché story elements and very convenient character situations. The movie starts off well, we establish the characters very easily with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams's generous chemistry, and they both look incredible on the set together, easily steals the show. 50 cent looked clean and dapper, and Forest Whitaker delivered great realism, and that's about where it ends.

    The Story shows a man who is just loaded with money. He's a mindblowing 43-0 (yea right) and during his after fight press conference, was interrupted by a would-be trash talking contender...OK sure that's great, seems solid so far, but from there the story goes a bit out of control. 50 cent working purely in his own interest, tries working a $30 million dollar deal using Gyllenhaal, and his wife being the brains behind the duo, quickly shoots it down believing that any more fights would permanently injure her husband and turn him into a walking tomato. VERY conveniently and shortly thereafter, Rachel McAdams is shot and killed by "accident" after a brawl broke out between the trash talking contender and Gyllenhaal, and quickly loses everything, and I mean everything. Somehow he goes from millionaire, to broke, to losing his kids and his home, car, and I guess non-existent savings, there isn't even anything in the plot about how maybe the wife hid money or someone stole the money from him, nope he just somehow had too many expenses and simply lost all his money. The story then moves to how he has to completely change who he is to satisfy his new boxing coach, his overbearing court decisions to take away his kid, and somehow make back the money he seemed to lose in an instant. Despite all that struggle, there is very little connection with any of the other characters after McAdams leaves the scene, and very little attachment to any of the very typical plot development other than he comes back and wins with seemingly very little struggle. The movie being called "southpaw" by the way is not about the fighter actually being a southpaw at all, neither was the contender, but conveniently called that because of an Eminem single and for magically landing an uppercut in the final round of the final fight by switching stances (which we didn't see) and that's it. Despite great performances, much of the story just left me wondering "why do I care about any of this" for a big chunk of the movie.

    You can also feel that there are parts to the story that are suppose to make us feel bad or force us to feel connected to the characters that just don't work or don't seem to fit. Losing his child is very difficult, but her behavior and reactions though seemingly honest and real, don't seem to make much sense and seem a bit unrealistic, she seemed very close with her dad and ended up wishing he was dead were quite the extremes. The same can be said for the character Hoppy, who spent maybe 3 minutes of on screen time with Gyllenhaal and ended up losing his life in a domestic violence dispute with his family. There is a very real performance by Forest Whitaker about the situation, but why is it important to us as the audience? They didn't even touch on the character that much and we are suppose to have an emotional reaction? That in a nutshell is how the entire movie felt after the first 20 minutes.

    I did watch the film through to the end, so for that I give it a 5 for keeping me interested at least through the whole show. The villain was too thuggish to be taken seriously, his reasons for losing all of his money didn't seem realistic, and much of how the story developed did so in a way that didn't seem to be very logical in real life, and VERY far from the well thought out movie that Rocky was.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal gives his fans his best work since Brokeback Mountain as light heavyweight champion Billy Hope who suffers a horrific personal tragedy beyond any I've ever seen in a boxing film and comes back from it. For what he goes through Sylvester Stallone had it easy. As Brokeback Mountain got him an Oscar nomination maybe Southpaw will do the same.

    Billy Hope is a kid raised in an orphanage as a foundling as is his loving and supportive wife Rachel McAdams. They have a daughter played by Oona Laurence who is their whole world. When McAdams is killed in an unspeakable tragedy, Gyllenhaal's world falls apart and he has to make one long comeback.

    As a kid who was raised by the social welfare system it's the system that decides what he must do to gain back his child. Gyllenhaal is wonderful as a man who successfully conquers the badder angels of his nature to gain it all back, title, child, and self respect.

    McAdams should be singled out for a moving death scene ranking up there with some of the screen's best. Also Forest Whitaker who trains the ex-champ for his comeback should also be singled out.

    Watching Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope put me in mind of heavyweight contender Hurricane Jackson when I was a kid. There's no science in Hope's style, he just wades in and brawls. Hope will take two or three punches to get in his shot. As McAdams points out he'll be punch drunk within a few years. Whitaker puts a little science in his boxing persona. Hurricane Jackson was very much like Billy Hope and did in fact end up punch drunk.

    This is a fine boxing film and Oscar nominations could come for Gyllenhaal and McAdams.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WARNING: Major spoilers in this review

    Antoine Fuqua shows again what a bad director he is. This movie is a combination of a terrible plot and writing, and bad direction. The only good thing about this movie is Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker.

    In this movie, you have the champion of the world in boxing, who makes tens of million of dollars and lives in a mansion, manages in a few days to somehow lose his wife, his job, his house, his daughter, to become a drugged/alcohol addict, a suicidal and a potential killer. This is the plot of a goofy comedy, not a boxing drama. It's ridiculous and it makes absolutely no sense. It also takes half the movie time and the situations repeat themselves like a bad soap opera: mistake -> tragedy - > sad music ... and repeat.

    The characters are brainless and have moronic motives. Just as an example, this guy who is so worried about his daughter, has no problem wanting/trying to commit suicide - and more than once.

    Rachel McAdams is terrible. From the beginning of the movie I said to myself that we see her WAY too much - and I knew there was a reason for that. Showing her tits and body all the time is the fault of the director. But the bad acting is a combination of bad direction, bad writing and Rachel fault.

    A minor getting into a family court for custody case? Are you kidding me? Was this movie written by a 10-year old? His wife dies and the first thing he does after the funeral is leave his minor daughter alone? Did the writer live under a stone or something? This is an obvious attempt to show us that the character is suffering, but it's cheap and makes absolutely no sense.

    Antoine Fuqua is simply a bad director. He can't direct actors and his movies are just bad. Training Day was a decent movie at best, but somehow it made him big in Hollywood.

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker are the only good thing about this movie, but they can't save a movie that was so poorly written and directed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First off this screenplay makes Rocky 5 look like a Shakespearean masterpiece. Whomever vomited this forth knows nothing about boxing. Knows nothing about managing, promoting or training a boxer. Has never seen or possibly even heard of an actual boxing match.

    They know nothing about HBO, HBO sports, sporting fans or anything related to any sport of any kind.

    They also know nothing about bankruptcy, foreclosure, family services, anything related to being poor, anything related to being rich, anger management, losing a loved one, dying from a gun shot wound or anything related to anything a child may ever do or say in the real world.

    This most amazing thing about this screenplay is somewhere out there in the real world someone got paid (for real) many thousands of dollars (for real) for this handful of used toilet paper.

    So, from now on instead of flushing my own used toilet paper I am going to stick it in a envelope addressed to Hollywood and give each piece a title like "Southpaw", "Hockey Stick" or "Field Goal" and wait for the checks to start rolling in.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    To one degree or another we've seen this movie before. What's different in the approach for me were the parallel stories of Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhall) and Tick Wills (Forest Whittaker), each lamenting a course of action they took that led to terrible unintended consequences. Both outcomes resulted in the death of loved ones, for Billy his wife, and for trainer Wills, young Hoppy (Skylan Brooks) who Wills felt responsible for and didn't do enough to protect from a troubled family life. Both men seek some semblance of redemption by gutting out their despair and challenging themselves to take up the good fight once again.

    There's some resonance here for anyone dealing with family issues in which Child Protective Services is a factor. For all the discomfort one might experience watching those scenes of Billy trying to connect with his daughter, the flip side is that he put her in danger and responsible parties stepped in at the appropriate time. The family court judge acted accordingly upon the recommendation of the supervising case worker. The scenario represented here was intelligently handled.

    Jake Gyllenhaal is exceptional here, though as others on this board have commented, the way he transforms his ring style under the tutelage of 'Dream Crusher' Wills is somewhat unfathomable. Using the shoulder technique to protect his face in the showdown match against 'The Magic' looked just plain awkward. The split decision ending would precede the one in "Creed" by a few short months, suggesting that everything old is new again when you put a different spin on it.
  • 3/10 just for Gyllenhaal - burdened with a paper thin character and script overwrought with so many clichés it borders on plagiarism - who managed to breathe the smallest amount of life into this "feature" film.

    I can understand the hype, with a new track from Eminem and Hollywood darling's McAdams, Gyllenhaal, & Whitaker, bloody spit takes, and convincing eye make up - what could go wrong? The catch is it's completely superficial. Too often we mistake glitzy effects and name branding for quality. Southpaw exemplifies this to a fault. We are guided to believe the walking plot points are characters, that the dialogue is remotely passable (the commentators laughably bad), most of all that we see a portrayal of poverty, addiction, or isolation behind the gloves. But we never get there.

    In fact we never see the hard streets of new york - save for transition shots and an exterior of Will's Gym. We never see Hope's spiraling inebriation following his wife's passing - just a news headline and a silly crash sequence that comes out of the blue. We get cuts and montages the imply his falling apart, but alas it is a spectacle we never see. Save for a one off apartment scene and a character so thinly written he wasn't given a real name (Hoppy), the only poverty we experience is through hackneyed dialogue about growing up in the foster care system. In truth 80% of the movie is in the ring, locker room, or gym.

    This movie relies so heavily on Gyllenhaal's performance that it's insulting. Insulting that today a name and some make up is enough to paint an otherwise vapid and lackluster production as a masterpiece. And I wanted to love this movie so badly as a massive fan of boxing movies.
  • I walked into the cinema with a preconceived expectation that 'Southpaw' was going to be another boxing film with a clichéd tale about a man turning around his life for the good something greater than himself. It was an expectation I was willing to ignore in the hope (no pun intended)of seeing something fresh and original. I then realised when I was waiting for the movie to begin that when it comes to the fight game, there is only so much you can tell. Boxing is always going to be clichéd, but that is why we come back to see the same story over and over again. Everybody loves to root for the underdog and everybody loves to see a person fall from grace and then with a hard fought struggle, reclaim their dignity through redemption.

    How many fight films have there been? Anybody could name at least three, and most are pretty good stories. 'Rocky' made a star out of Stallone, 'Raging Bull' got De Niro the Academy Award and films like 'Cinderella Man' and 'Ali' were critically acclaimed with standout performances from their leading men. I'm not saying 'Southpaw' is up there with these films but the basic plot is no different from any of these great movies. What is common is the performances of the actors, who give their heart and soul, with each one outstandingly giving a predictable script the feeling that you have just watched a good piece of theatre.

    This is out and out Jake Gyllenhaal's film, with a performance that is every bit as worthy of an awards season nomination than anything he has done in the past. He will be ignored by organisations such as the Academy of Film for this performance but he is truly an actor at the top of his game. It will not be long before he finds the role that will put him echelon of actors that have ever stood in front of a camera.

    He plays Billy Hope, who is the undisputed, undefeated Light Heavyweight Champion of the world, using his raw aggressive emotion to win his fights. In his corner is his loyal beautiful wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), who is becoming concerned that Billy is starting to take to much punishment for the sake of victory inside the ring. After an unpredictable and tragic event, Billy loses everything, including his daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence) and his championship belts. He is a man at the very bottom but with the help of an old school trainer named Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker), Billy turns his life around for the sake of his daughter and finds the determination he needs to live the rest of his life with dignity and respect.

    Yes, yes. Very clichéd and we have all seen it before but the film pulls hard on the heart strings and you find yourself really wanting Billy to come out on top. Young Oona Laurence is magnificent as Billy's daughter, giving an emotional performance of a girl confused and angry about her father's fall from grace. Forest Whitaker doesn't let the production down and 50 Cent is surprisingly engaging in his turn as the boxing promoter that is only interested in making money and lots of it, to the detriment of his fighters. Director, Antione Fuqua has delivered the audience his best production since 'Training Day' and has been able to turn a over told story into a movie that oozes emotion and feeling.

    Ignore the predictable script and focus on the memorable performances of the actors and you will come away with a very satisfying experience.
  • The story works generously from the lore of the Rocky movies and has a predictable ending. If you're too young to have seen the early Rocky movies, you might think this movie is wonderful. HBO did a lot of work to make the fights look good, but the punches are too slow to be confused with real, top level professional boxing.

    The story is needlessly emotional for a sports movie. At moments it is a total tear jerker to the point where any redemption is a Pyrrhic victory at best. Jake Gyllenhaal did a lot to make this movie better than it should have been, a lesser actor in his role would have made this movie quite bad.
  • As in the title, the movie is very predictable and cliché. Usually I do a quite detail research before going to the cinema, this time I just quickly looked at IMDb rating and it was a mistake.. not the first one unfortunately. The movie is not ambitious at all. It tries to tell a bigger story, pass some message but it does it very poorly. Too much in this movie happens in too short time, which leads to the situation where most of the scenes and behaviors of movie characters are not realistic. While watching it I hoped I would be watching now any of the Rocky later movies, that I have seen already. Even the boxing scenes where naive and they were just proving that whoever did this movie has no idea about boxing. Not recommending anyone to waste time for this movie, but of course it is just my subjective opinion. I guess I was just not a target group for this movie and I should not end up watching it.
  • Look, I love Jake as much or more than the next guy - Nightcrawler was one of the best films ever - but this film is Insanely Boring. The entire story is a foregone conclusion. Every preview showed his wife getting shot so it's not a spoiler, so the only way this story develops or is interesting is what happens next. And what happens next is literally EXACTLY what you know is going to happen from the moment she's shot - from before you even stepped into the theater. Literally NOTHING happens that is remotely interesting or surprising. Complete waste of time, I have just no clue why I watched this movie. I ended up fast-forwarding the last ten minutes because why do I want to see a fake movie fight when I already know who wins? YAWN. BORING. Why on Earth do you people like this so much???
An error has occured. Please try again.