The Fighter

Rated 3.0

Mark Wahlberg stars in the true story of Massachusetts boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward, a working-class junior welterweight who went pro in the ‘80s with hit-and-miss help from his crack-addled half-brother Dicky Eklund, played here with riveting, movie-stealing immediacy by Christian Bale. Director David O. Russell and his team of writers don’t have much boxing-movie innovation to offer, but they know the formula and lay it on extra thick: Look, it’s a double training montage, with two underdogs trying comebacks simultaneously! Melissa Leo might get some awards attention for her turn as the boys’ live-wire mother, but that shouldn’t overshadow Jack McGee’s truer, less showy turn as her wearied spouse. Other appealing intangibles include Russell and Bale both being Internet-famous for on-set temper tantrums, and the pretty-boy beefball Wahlberg being surrounded by a glorious gallery of Mass-holes. The movie’s most thrilling fight might just be Mickey’s girlfriend, played by Amy Adams, throwing down with his seven trashy sisters.