Critic Consensus: Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an impressively committed performance, but Southpaw beats it down with a dispiriting drama that pummels viewers with genre clichés.
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Critic Reviews for Southpaw
The modicum of pleasure delivered by "Southpaw" arrives thanks to its cast, who struggle bravely and energetically with the hopelessly bland text and the invisible, impersonal direction.
Southpaw isn't content with presenting a gallery of clichéd characters. It takes the time to put flesh on the bones.
"Southpaw" is a tremendous accomplishment of mainstream cinematic craft, a near-perfect match of director, material and star.
When you look past Fuqua's jittery directing, which dices up shots and leans the camera close into its star's painstakingly battered mug, Southpaw is a melange of familiar fighter movie ideas and images going back to Rocky.
Just as director Antoine Fuqua starts to close in on something interesting and unexpected, he retreats to the safety of his corner and gives us what we've seen too many times before: a predictable flurry of melodramatic jabs.
Audience Reviews for Southpaw
ClichÃ (C)-driven but a well-put effort in being inspiring and persevering. Southpaw has its plot holes and melodrama, but thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal's effortless performance and the glitz and glamour of the sweet science, it goes the distance. 3.5/5
An entirely predictable boxing drama elevated by committed performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker, but it doesn't have enough to fully recommend. You can predict the entire plot in about five minutes. The first half of the film suffers from entirely unlikable characters and that only gets elevated in the second half by Forest Whitaker's character. Because I didn't really like the main character, his transformation didn't affect me like it should have. Ultimately, it was entertaining in spurts and has good performances, but the unlikable characters and predictable story hold it back from being anything more than halfway decent.
After his wife is killed, a boxer falls from grace but finds redemption in one last fight. Jake Gyllenhaal's physical transformation and the intensity of his performance are the only two things that recommend this film. Everything else is unrestrained, melodramatic, melancholic, and melon-headed nonsense. Plot points pop up like they were written on the way to the set, and characters reverse intentions because plot, and the whole thing just wreaks of sensationalism like a sweaty gym sock. Just as a quick, non-spoiler example: at the first act climax of the film, the protagonist's wife is killed (in a ham-handed, "because plot" fashion - but no matter), and her death scene lasts about three minutes with nothing but repeated dialogue, slobber, and tears. It's a scene, the emotional effect of which, fades with each passing second, and it bespeaks a director who over-indulges in a fascination with his own feelings. Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams "go there," but it's up to the director to temper the scene so that the film doesn't peak too early and so that it doesn't seem over-indulgent. Overall, this might have been a good movie if only the film's structure could have served it better.
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