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
The first 45 minutes are basically Murphy's law for the protagonist: everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But you it's also true that when you've hit rock bottom, the only way is up. What follows still isn't predictable here, but takes a lot of effort, sweat and tears. Once the film is over, you realize it played you with the conventions of the sports drama you've seen a few times before. But while you're in it, you're on the edge of the seat and feel for this deeply flawed man and his adorable daughter. That's no small feat. Director Fuqua could rely on an incredibly strong cast, especially Gyllenhaal, delivering one of the best performances of his career.
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.
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