There is not one, not two but three movies about the sport of boxing coming out this year. Miles Teller is starring in a film called “Bleed for This”. There is yet another Rocky sequel in “Creed”, and the other one that has just debut (well actually like a week ago) their trailer called “Southpaw”. Originally suppose to be a follow up of sorts to “8 Mile” with Eminem in the lead role, this has become a vehicle for Jake Gyllenhaal and “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua. Coming out in July of this year, this first trailer for “Southpaw” shows off what is sure to be a big hit.
There is a bit of debate going around the internet on whether or not this trailer gave too much of the film away. If you don’t want to know anything about this movie or its plot want to go in spoiler free then don’t read further and don’t watch the trailer. It does give some details what some might consider to be spoilers. You’ve been warned.
(Spoilers-*sort of* begin)
The trailer shows after the death of his wife, the boxer played by Jake, Billy Hope, is sent through a downward spiral of self destruction; while trying to stay strong for his daughter. The only way he might find solace is to fight back to the top even with demons grabbing a hold of him and stripping him away from the privilege he built up for himself and for his daughter.
I don’t think we’ve seen a boxer in this much peril and self agony since Martin Scorsese masterpiece “Raging Bull”. A lot of boxing movies have similar themes to one another and sometimes is hard to distance themselves from other in the genre. Yet even if “Southpaw” has some of the same themes as other boxing movies, this does look like it’s able to thread some new ground from Fuqua’s direction.
The question of whether or not this trailer gives too much away, I personally disagree with. While I do agree this trailer gave away too many subplots away, the main thing people are pointing too is the death of Hope’s wife as a major spoiler. Yet I don’t see this as a spoiler since that is a catalyst for the entire plot to begin. It’s harder to sell a boxing movie off the strength of your star (especially when “Nightcrawler” didn’t do outstanding at the box office) and if you’re marketing this then you will need a way to separate itself from other boxing films. Essentially you need to show what’s different about your movie. Hope’s wife dying is how the movie’s narrative gets set in motion. “John Wick” showed that Wick’s puppy is killed after a break in which set the entire plot in motion. That’s not a spoiler, and I don’t believe this is either.
Jake Gyllenhaal had to do something special to follow up his unforgettable performance in “Nightcrawler” and he may have found it. From the trailer alone, he looks like he is hitting all different ranges and dramatic high points (that needs an intensity that Gyllenhaal brings) to be able to pull it off. Gyllenhaal gets ripped in the role, packing huge amounts of muscle. He looks more than capable to pull off this type of performance. The supporting cast looks really good as well. Originally I didn’t realize Forest Whitaker was in this picture and when he popped up I was happy to see him playing the trainer. He seems perfect for that type of role. The young actress playing her daughter (whose named I believe is Oona Laurence) looks outstanding! It’s always nice to see a good child actor. It’s painful to watch a bad kid actor and from the moments in the trailer Oona Laurence looks more than up to the task of acting opposite Jake.
I am a sucker for a good boxing movie and we have three shots to get one this year. Yet, I think we will see not just a good boxing movie, but I believe “Southpaw” will be a great movie with plenty of Oscar potential as well. I am careful not to let my hopes get too high but this looks outstanding.