The Fighter

Critics Consensus

Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.



Reviews Counted: 241

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Average Rating: 4.1/5

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Movie Info

Mark Wahlberg stars in Paramount Pictures' inspirational docudrama exploring the remarkable rise of Massachusetts-born, junior welterweight title winner "Irish" Micky Ward. A determined pugilist whose career in the ring was shepherded by his loyal half-brother, Dicky (Christian Bale) -- a hard-living boxer-turned-trainer whose own career in the ring was nearly sent down for the count due to drugs and crime -- perennial underdog Irish Micky rebounded from a disheartening series of defeats to win both the WBU Intercontinental Lightweight title and the WBU Light Welterweight title thanks to a fierce combination of determination and hard work. David O. Russell directs from a script by 8 Mile's Scott Silver and Paul Attanasio (The Bourne Ultimatum). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Christian Bale
as Dicky Eklund
Mark Wahlberg
as Micky Ward
Amy Adams
as Charlene Fleming
Melissa Leo
as Alice Ward
Jack McGee
as George Ward
Melissa McMeekin
as "Little Alice" Eklund
Bianca Hunter
as Cathy "Pork" Eklund
Erica McDermott
as Cindy "Tar" Eklund
Jill Quigg
as Donna Eklund Jaynes
Dendrie Taylor
as Gail "Red Dog" Eklund
Kate O'Brien
as Phyllis "Beaver" Eklund
Jenna Lamia
as Sherri Ward
Frank Renzulli
as Sal Lanano
Paul Campbell (IV)
as Gary "Boo Boo" Giuffrida
Caitlin Dwyer
as Kasie Ward
Ted Arcidi
as Lou Gold
Ross Bickell
as Mike Toma
Jose Antonio Rivera
as Gilberto Brown, aka Jose
Richard W. Farrell
as HBO Cameraman #1
Matthew Muzio
as HBO Cameraman #2
Steven Barkheimer
as HBO Producer
Art Ramalho
as Art Ramalho
Mickey O'Keefe
as Mickey O'Keefe
Sugar Ray Leonard
as Sugar Ray Leonard
Jackson Nicoll
as Little Dicky
Alison Folland
as Laurie Carroll
Sean Doherty
as Jimmy (Laurie's Husband)
Thomas Hart Benton
as Businessman
Ray Greenhalge
as Ray Ramalho
Epifanio Melendez
as Carlos Garcia
Jeremiah Kissel
as Bald Businessman
Sean Eklund
as Man in Diner
Rikki Kleiman
as Court Clerk
Michael Dell'orto
as WBU Commissioner
Paul Locke
as Reporter #1
Kim Carrell
as Reporter #2
Colin Hammell
as John Hyland
Dale Place
as Referee Mickey Vann
Eddie Lee Anderson
as Referee Joe Cortez
Joseph Lupino
as Referee Mitch Halpern
Bonnie Aarons
as Crackhead Bonnie
Walter Driscoll
as Court Officer
Matt Russell
as Photo Guy on Street
A. Joseph Denucci
as Man on Street #1
Richard A. Eklund
as Man on Street #2
George Michael Ward
as Man on Street #3
Richard Eklund, Jr.
as Man on Street #4
Jack Greenhalge
as Man on Street #5
Kevin Paige
as Man on Street #6
Ziad Akl
as Inmate
Simon Hamlin
as Movie Patron
Gerald Greenhalge
as Uncle Jerry
Matthew Russell
as Running Kid #1
Tommy Eklund
as Running Kid #2
Rita Mercier
as Woman on Street #1
Deborah Bolanger
as Woman on Street #2
Kerry Moore
as Woman on Street #3
Philip D. Herbert
as Micky's Cutman
Raul Vera
as Sanchez Trainer
Jack Lally
as Neary Trainer
Carlos L. Smith
as Sugar Ray Leonard Bodyguard
Jerrell Lee Wesley
as Fight Spectator #1
Hugh K. Long
as Fight Spectator #2
Eric Weinstein
as Micky's Friend
Peter "Sugarfoot" Cunningham
as Mike "Machine Gun" Mungin
Miguel Espino
as Alfonso Sanchez
Jen Weissenberg
as Drunk Girl
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News & Interviews for The Fighter

Critic Reviews for The Fighter

All Critics (241) | Top Critics (46)

Audience Reviews for The Fighter

the thing about boxing movies is that they're boxing movies, it's hard to get out of the rut, yah? rich performances by all concerned in this take, wherein "the fighter"'s biggest fight is with his derelict family: ma (leo, superb as the mom you love to hate to love) dotes on the oldest boy (bale, unrecognisable as a smooth talkin' crackhead hasbeen), rags on the not strong enough current dad (mcgee, honorably in honorless shoes) while supporting a den of useless greek chorus sisters. how to get ahead then? how about listening to nearly faded small town jewel (adams, shimmering)? cliches, yes, american cliches, played out from sea to shining sea every day, transcended here by powerhouse performances, making this a worthy addition into the wealth of american as apple pie boxing movies.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

It is always a pleasure to see a sincere drama that doesn't give in to cheap clichés or easy melodrama but is instead a compelling film that simply relies on the power of a true story and the strength of an altogether perfect ensemble cast.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


A dysfunctional family both supports and cripples their son's aspiring boxing career. While Wahlberg as the fighter is more or less the obvious choice it's Bale as his drug-using coach and brother who steals every scene and delivers an outstanding (and Oscar-awarded) performance. Same goes for Melissa Leo as their mother. The film works best in the moments that feel very real and often have a great, realistic sense of humor. Only the last act follows the traditional sports drama path a bit too predictably. Overall the result is still highly entertaining and engaging, mostly thanks to the good writing and the stellar performances.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

It's so hard to make a boxing film that really stands out anymore, so thankfully, this one didn't really try and did something I respect even more: it's just a damn solid, well-made, and very entertaining film, the occasional predictable moments or cliches aside. If I had to pick something about it (besides the above) that does set it apart, it is the acting, but you probably may have that one figured out (unless you ignore reviews, the Oscars, or internet message boards). The odd thing here though, is that, even though this is about (part of) the story of Micky Ward, the supporting characters (especially Dicky), are such scene stealers and far more memorable, that you'd think the movie is really about them. In a way, this is true. It's mostly about Micky, but more about the role of those aroudn Micky, and how they shape and affect his life, especially his crackhead brother Dicky, trashy, overbearing, selfish mother Alice, and his seven equally trashy sisters. Besides being an underdog story, this film shows the bond of family (no matter how messed up), as well as the effects of being washed up and addicted to drugs. This is a story that could have been told all kinds of ways, and in David O. Russell's hands, it plays essentially like a docudrama. In fact, some of this is so well done and convincing that it seems closer to truth than fiction. It probably helps that locals are used to play themselves or people they know, and that this was all shot on location. Lowell, as shown here, is not really a place I wanna see anytime soon. As I said already, the acting is great, Wahlberg is actually the most low-key and toned down. Maybe that's a good thing. It makes the character less interesting, but everyone else is so over the top and showy that we need a more subtle performance to anchor things. Leo and Bale are tremendous, and their Oscars were well deserved, but they may have laid it on just a tad too thick. Adams is also great, especially since she lays against type, and succeeds. There's not a whole lot new here, but this is a really hard film to dislike, It's pretty solid, but not air tight. They could have made Ward a bit more interesting, and maybe included his trilogy of fights with Gatti, but apparently they are planning a sequel that will focus solely on just that, so there you go. This is very real, but maybe too real, too painful to watch at times. That's not to say that it's unwatchable though, because I certainly was never bored, and always found at least one thing to enjoy frame by frame. Go check this out. I give it a B+

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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