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Once famous primarily for his muscles, Mark Wahlberg has gone out of his way to make everyone forget about his underwear ad ready body and carve out a career for himself as an actor. Now he’s putting those Calvin Klein muscles in service of his acting career by playing a frequently shirtless boxer in David O. Russell’s The Fighter and, well, it’s kind of amazing that he hasn’t been doing this all along. Physically at least, not very many actors in Hollywood can really pull something like this off.
Wahlberg’s got the body but, even after all this time, the jury’s still out on whether he’s got the acting chops. When he speaks in the newly released Fighter trailer it’s hard to shake the image of Andy Samberg’s impression, in which he portrays Wahlberg talking to animals, or worse the lingering image of Wahlberg’s nearly career destroying performance in The Happening where he actually talked to plants.
Mostly though, the trailer for The Fighter has a lot of punching and how you react to it will, I suspect, depend in large part on how you feel about sports movies. It feels like a serviceable entry into the genre, with another potentially brilliant performance by Christian Bale as a supporting character, and maybe something special from Amy Adams too, as the obligatory girlfriend.
Watch the first trailer for The Fighter below or in HD on Apple. Join me afterward for more discussion about what you just saw.
So the big question for me, when faced with any sports movie is this: Can it show me anything new? The sports genre and in particular the boxing movie, is tried and true. It’s been done, and done well by others. If you’re going to do a sports movie, and especially a boxing movie, you’ve got to show me something new. That almost never happens in Hollywood but a couple of years ago The Wrestler managed to pull it off. Unfortunately I’m not seeing The Wrestler in this trailer for The Fighter. It looks a lot like a paint by numbers boxing movie about a down on his luck fighter who takes one last shot at the title.
Any hope this movie has of lifting itself above the usual boxing movie clichés seems to hinge on Christian Bale and his relationship with Wahlberg’s character, though exactly how that fits into the broader picture of his boxing career is only really hinted at in the trailer. Maybe that’ll be enough to separate The Fighter from all the other boxing movies we’ve already seen and memorized. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Amy Adams in her underwear. You can’t go wrong with that.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.