That's the formula. If you don't like it, then fine. This movie isn't for you. But it's a formula that works very well for the genre and one that gets me almost every time when done right. Yes, the variables are always different. I could take some time right here telling you about the specific variables that Southpaw uses, but I'm not going to. If you really want to see what they are, just go watch the trailer again because once again too much of the plot is shared in this trailer. I'll spare you the rant this time around, but you know what I usually say to that. Needless to say, Southpaw hits all the right notes it needs to in order to be one heck of a boxing movie. This is an extremely emotional movie that sees Jake Gyllenhaal become an absolute mess. Once he becomes this mess, I was once again blown away by the amazing acting prowess that this man has. I always say the best actors are those who can totally immerse themselves into a role and become the character they are trying to portray. Gyllenhaal did this last year in Nightcrawler to perfection. Once again he has completely transformed himself and is almost unrecognizable. I didn't see Jake Gyllenhaal. I saw a boxer whose life has completely fallen apart. When I read about all the effort and preparation the Gyllenhaal put into this role, it becomes even more impressive. He's a guy who seems to take every role seriously and I really appreciate that.
If you've watched enough boxing movies, you'll know that most of the good ones always have a moment. This moment I speak of is often a turning point where an emotional and/or heated discussion takes place between our main character and a person close to him. Southpaw's moment is between Gyllenhaal and his daughter. This daughter is played by a young 12-year-old girl named Oona Laurence and dang can this girl act. I'm always a lot more forgiving if a child actor doesn't pull off the best acting performance. I don't think it's fair to hold them to the level of their adult co-stars. However, when they do pull off a performance that is equal in scale to the adults in the movie, it's that much more impressive. Little Oona does just that. Fantastic. The other great performance in this movie is another one of my favorite actors, that of Forest Whitaker. I feel that he's often under-appreciated when he shows up in a movie. He doesn't get a whole ton of recognition. But he's also one who fully immerses himself into his role and this is no different. He plays the perfect supporting role in this movie that really is the glue that holds all the big pieces together.
Overall, Southpaw is a movie that worked very well for me. No, it didn't do anything unique or crazy with the boxing genre, but in my opinion it didn't need to. Sometimes when you are making a movie it is much better to just follow a tried and tested formula than to try to branch out too much. Yes Southpaw followed this boxing movie formula, but it hit all the right notes along the way and thus as a fan of boxing movies, I was very pleased. Propelling this movie was yet another excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who once again proves why he is one of my current favorite actors. Is this the movie that will avenge his slap in the face by the Oscars last year? I don't know. Probably not. But whatever. After seeing Southpaw, I watched a YouTube video done by Francis Maxwell and Jason Rubin from the TYT Sports YouTube channel where they rank their top five favorite boxing movies (check it out right here) and they included Southpaw in their list. I don't know how my list would be, but I do agree with them that Southpaw is one of the best boxing movies that has been made and one of the best movies of the year so far. My grade for Southpaw is a 9.5/10.