When he finally approached the two brothers to ask their permission he learned that they had already sold the rights, and it took even longer for the project to be green lighted by Paramount.
“As an actor, as a producer, and as a friend to Micky and Dickie, and the town of Lowell, it was something that I needed to make happen. Giving up and moving on to other things was not an option,” Wahlberg said.
The Fighter, as Wahlberg tells it, is about a man confronting his last chance to make good, with all the pathos and fragile hope that implies.
But it’s not just Irish Micky Ward who’s looking for a happy ending. Lurking on the edges of every scene is his glorious, charismatic and tragically self-destructive brother Dickie, who also knows he’s looking at his last shot to turn his life around.
With stakes like these The Fighter still doesn’t manipulate your feelings with cheap sentiment or a syrupy soundtrack. Instead director Russell turns on his camera and trusts his cast and his story to pull you in. Some critics have groused that the script takes liberties with the actual life, but for the two hours or so the film progresses there isn’t a frame wasted.
The surprising thing about The Fighter is that, for a boxing film, it never loses sight of just how vulnerable even the most battle-hardened fighter can be when it comes to love and family.
Wahlberg is a revelation in a film that plays to every one of his strengths and his own history. This film strength springs directly from his own hard won experience, and its power to move you comes from knowing how just deeply he loves and admires the Irish American family and heroes at its center. Don’t miss it.
The Fighter opens on limited release on Friday before going nationwide in January.
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