Despite the fact that it's loosely based on a true story, there's not a lot of authenticity to "Against the Ropes," a watered-down boxing melodrama filled with sports movie cliches and boring, stock characters.
I get that spunky Meg Ryan being cast against type as real-life promoter Jackie Kallen is the big draw here, but the actress is terribly unconvincing in the role. Her persona doesn't have the weight to pull it off, but it's really the screenplay that lets everyone down here.None of these characters are written very well, and the relationship Ryan has with her boxer is especially weak. Omar Epps is just fine in the role, but not once do we believe the bond between him and his manager, and that's essential to the success of the picture.
The weakness is further strengthened by the fact that the Ryan character isn't very likable most of the time , especially when it becomes apparent she's only concerned about herself. The first-time direction by Charles S. Dutton is very stiff and mechanical, and it's even more distressing in the boxing scenes. They aren't very exciting, and they should have been the centerpiece of the film.
Instead, since the writing is so weak, we don't have much interest invested in these people or their story. Even the championship fight feels anticlimactic, but the whole things ends predictably enough. "Against the Ropes is as routine and by-the-numbers as movies get, a lazy and uninspired drama centered around a story that didn't need to be told.