Matty Burton (Paddy Considine) is an ageing boxer who hopes to defend his title in one last fight, and then plans to enjoy his retirement with his wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and their baby daughter. After he comes home from the fight, his wife soon finds him collapsed on the floor…
This is not a boxing movie; it is about Matty, as well as his family and friends, trying to fight their way back from his life-altering brain damage.
As well as playing the lead role, the movie was written and directed by Considine, and it clearly was a project he cared a lot about; the result seems to be a well researched movie. A story with ambitious potential, the script seems to take some short cuts that unfortunately weaken its impact. After Matty’s invasive brain surgery we never get any explanation or details of his injury, and Matty and Emma never seem to get any support from any medical professional – they just get sent home after ‘the operation’ and are left completely to their own devices – something Matty clearly is not ready for. This is of course the entire foundation of the story, especially since it is also the basis for Emma’s struggles and choices, but it leaves us in a position of being mere observers without invested empathy.
The film is well directed and certainly engaging throughout, but Considine seems to carefully avoid choosing sides or putting any blame anywhere; in keeping the movie too neutral and ‘objective’ the film manages to stay on the right side of sappy, but in the end unfortunately fails to pack any punches. Maybe the biggest hurdle for the movie however is that, despite strong acting, Paddy Considine in most of the key scenes isn’t quite convincing as a boxer, nor as a patient.