The Fighter

Rated 4.0

David O. Russell’s boxing biopic The Fighter is what’s known in the business as a “surefire crowd pleaser,” which means that it’ll probably play more like a guilty pleasure in your living room. Nevertheless, this story of the late-blooming former welterweight champ Micky Ward is solid entertainment anchored by Russell’s smart storytelling and Christian Bale’s transformative, Oscar-winning performance as Micky’s crack-addicted brother Dicky. Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky, a shy and sensitive counterpart to Dicky who allows his family to exploit him for years before finally getting his title shot. The rest of the cast is uniformly solid, even if Oscar winner Melissa Leo (as Micky’s brassy mom) and Amy Adams (as his brassy girlfriend) often seem to be playing to some nonexistent third-deck balcony. There are a couple of teeth-grating moments, but The Fighter succeeds as long as it sticks with the themes of brothers and boxing.