Billy "The Great" Hope, the reigning junior middleweight boxing champion, has an impressive career, a loving wife and daughter, and a lavish lifestyle. However, when tragedy strikes, Billy hits rock bottom, losing his family, his house and his manager. He soon finds an unlikely savior in Tick Willis, a former fighter who trains the city's toughest amateur boxers. With his future on the line, Hope fights to reclaim the trust of those he loves the most.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope, a boxer raised in an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen where he met his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams). The movie starts when Billy is on top of the world as reigning boxing champion living a lavish lifestyle.
Maureen has always been the loving and sensible one, making the decisions for the family. She is starting to get worried that the boxing is beginning to get Billy punch-drunk and wants him to slow down before he becomes a permanently dribbling mess. His manager Jordan Mains (50 Cent) of course wants him to sign up for more fights. When Billy’s temper results in disaster, he loses everything… Will he be able to get his life together again…?
Some call Southpaw the ‘Rocky for a New Generation’. The only downside of re-creating Rocky is that it borrows so heavily from various boxing and fight movies that it ends up being 2 hours of cliche-filled predictability.
The overall storyline in all its familiarity is fine but never gets much below the obvious surface, despite the emotional tear-jerking plotlines that run through the entire movie. And the fight scenes are ‘ok’ (not KO) but nowhere near as raw and engaging as the ones in e.g. Warrior or even the Rocky series.
The acting is pretty good, and it is especially pleasing to see Forest Whitaker play a strong supporting role as Billy’s trainer, where he actually cares to act again (his performance in 2015’s Taken 3 was a disaster…). His acting may be strong but his character’s will is not: “I don’t train pro-boxers!”. Hmmm sure looks like you do… “I don’t drink!” Hmmm… sure looks like you do… “I changed my mind alright?!”. Ok then…
Anways, whilst it won’t be remembered as a classic in the genre, it is a very watchable movie if you feel like an easy the-rags-to-riches-underdog-prevails story.