His incarnation as limber crack addict Dicky Ekund should win him an Oscar. It’s the best of many great performances in “The Fighter,” offsetting the brilliant passivity of Mark Wahlberg as his battling half-brother, Micky Ward. Together, the two score a one-two punch in arguably the most powerful fight movie ever made.
A true story that is as fresh as Facebook, “The Fighter” chronicles the surprising, but spectacular rise of Micky Ward to the heights of world junior welter weight champ in the early 2000’s. Directed by David O’Russell (“Flirting with Disaster”), the film is also achingly funny in its insightful slice-of-life look at a struggling working class, dysfunctional family from Lowell, Massachusetts.
While Micky is the obvious shining star, Dicky is in a downward spiral that sucks in your attention like a cyclone. A crack boxing strategist, who spends more time with his pipe than training his sibling, Dicky was once an up-and-coming pugilist, whose claimto fame is knocking Sugar Ray Leonard off his feet.
And their dominating mother Alice (Melissa Leo) doesn’t help any. Micky’s self-appointed manager, she favors loose-cannon Dicky, keeping Micky on the ropes in hopes that the older expro will stage a comeback.
Into the mix comes tough-as-nails bar maid Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams, also Oscar worthy). Awakening Micky’s love and self-worth, she moves him away from Alice and Dicky and into a world of focused professionalism. The result is winning bouts and a chance at the gold ring.
However, Dicky provides an element that can’t be missed. When his brother is released from prison clean and sober, Micky brings him back for the final fight with the piston-pounding champ from England.
The climax is as rousing and amazing as anything in “Rocky” or ‘Raging Bull.”
See “The Fighter” and find out why.