There has been many boxing sports movies but there has seldom been a film more human and believable like this one and where any punch has enormous consequence. It is a complex drama that actually dares to change the entire premise of the film halfway into it as well turning from boxing movie to pure drama. Clint Eastwood do one of his most emotional roles and the ending leave a mental knockdown on the viewer itself.
Lovely, poetic, sweet, simple and true. Hillary Swank gives a physically and emotionally committed performance imbuing the film with an agile, grounded gut punch. Eastwood's measured yet jazzy rhythms lend the piece a solid, quiet dramatic weight. This is a film about life, the many blows we all weather to get through it, find inner strength and define it's meaning on our own terms. A scrappy, sad, powerful lament.
90 *dreadfully* dull minutes of endless boxing movie cliches followed by a sudden swerve into weepy Lifetime-movie sappiness for the last 3rd. Minus that sudden twist, every bit of this feels by-the-numbers formulaic. There's hardly an honest moment in the whole thing and its switch to a tragic tale feels absurdly contrived. Drab, dull, lethargic, and false. It gets a D-.
***1/2 Struggle, grace, nobility in a depleted world (urban, this time) presented with confident understatement. But then Eastwood (so fine, as an actor, opposite the perfectly complementary Swank) and Haggis stoop to caricature in an awful telegraphing of a pathetically simplistic, long-discredited bootstrap mythology -- an ineffably compromising stain they allow to seep all over the grace they touch elsewhere.
Unnecessary voiceover, generic archetypes, and the story is something out of screenwriting 101 (though the ending did feel somewhat fresh). Clint plays a boring, grizzled bastard that has played for the past 80 years (real life and in films). This nero actually talks to a fucking bed in this movie! The church scenes are absolutely fucking pointless. Freeman is utterly wasted and Swank is pleasant.