“The Fighter” (2010). Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Mickey O’Keefe, Jack McGee, Frank Renzulli, Chanty Sok, Anthony Molinari, Peter Cunningham, Sugar Ray Leonard. Director: David O. Russell. Screenplay: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. Story: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington. www.thefightermovie.com
No matter how much we might like to think otherwise, it can be surprisingly easy to allow others to run our lives if we let them. Most of us would probably find that quite frustrating, but it must be especially exasperating if our calling in life requires us to take command of things in charting our own course. Allowing ourselves to become shackled by others keeps us from fulfilling our potential and achieving our destined greatness. So learning how to free ourselves from such stifling circumstances is crucial, a lesson that provides the ironic focus of the inspiring new biopic, “The Fighter.”
Based on the life story of former junior welterweight boxing champ “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the movie chronicles how the scrappy, soft-spoken native of Lowell, Massachusetts rose to the top of his game. And, interestingly enough, it was a struggle that ultimately required Micky to fight more than just his opponents in the ring.
Despite some success early on, the future champ was slow to become the break-out star that many thought he could be. This was due in large part to the dubious handling of his career by his older half-brother, former boxer Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), and his mother and promoter, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo). No matter how hard Micky trained, his handlers’ “management” frequently hindered his career development. For instance, even though he taught Micky much about boxing techniques, Dicky was often more preoccupied with the pipe dream of resuscitating his own career, a prospect that went nowhere due to his severe drug problem, a condition that made him so delusional that he thought he was the subject of an HBO movie documenting his comeback when, in fact, he was part of a film being made about crack addiction. Alice, meanwhile, seldom had Micky’s best interests at heart, often letting finances determine his impending matches (even if that meant going up against unsuitable opponents) and focusing much of her time and attention bailing out her wayward elder son. But, what’s worse, Micky sat back and let it all happen; after all, this was his family, and they were in his corner, right?
After allowing himself to be talked into a flagrant mismatch against Mike “Machine Gun” Mungin (Peter Cunningham)—a bout in which he was seriously injured—Micky began to question the wisdom of those in whom he had placed his trust. At the prompting of his girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams), his father George (Jack McGee) and others, Micky decided it was time to make some changes. He hired a new promoter, Sal Lanano (Frank Renzulli), who was willing to take on Micky as a client on one condition—that he leave behind those who had been mismanaging his career, most notably Dicky and Alice. Micky agreed, a decision that caused considerable friction in the family but one that also allowed his career to take off, ultimately culminating in a title shot against world champion Shea Neary (Anthony Molinari). And, by doing so, Micky came to embody the appellation “fighter”—in every sense of the word.
In living out our destinies, we often draw inspiration from a variety of sources. In some cases, we may follow the examples set by those we admire. But, in other instances, we need only look to ourselves and the realities we create through the beliefs we hold as conscious creators. As simple as that may seem, however, we often overlook the obvious, as if the inspiration we most need were hiding in plain sight. That’s very much the case with Micky, at least initially; he may be a boxer by vocation, but he fails to see the need to fight for his professional well-being—and how he can draw upon the nature of that vocation to help him change his life, both professionally and personally. Once he connects the dots, however, doors begin to open for him that previously were not only closed but that he didn’t even know existed.
As seasoned conscious creation practitioners know, the beliefs we hold in creating our individual realities are often present in multiple areas of our lives. In this regard, our beliefs frequently function like a computer’s operating program, providing a basis that supports all the application programs running on top of it. Consequently, the beliefs that govern the flow of things in one area of our life may also be at work governing the flow of things elsewhere, too, and this is plainly apparent in Micky’s experience as a fighter in the ring and a fighter in everyday life. Even his particular boxing style, for instance, is similar to the way he handles other aspects of his life, such as his relationship with his family; he plays a waiting game, taking what others have to dish out before striking back with a spirited punch of his own, sending a powerful message whose impact is undeniable, one that can’t help but be heard. The parallels here are uncanny, in both cases reflecting the beliefs that underlie them in true conscious creation fashion.
Those who look to movies for spiritually inspirational messages may wonder what can be gleaned from watching a film that depicts a sport as violent as boxing, and arguments against it would indeed have merit. However, pictures like “The Fighter” also showcase the need for acting courageously, an important component in making conscious creation work. Were it not for the act of living heroically, we’d stay stuck in our ruts, never growing personally or experiencing the potential that life has to offer. Micky’s story illustrates this point clearly, and, as discussed above, it does so on multiple levels, too, for his willingness to embrace this notion has wide-ranging implications that affect his reality both personally and professionally.
I must admit that I wasn’t expecting much from “The Fighter” going in. The trailers made it look like yet another trite boxing movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result. Its engaging, well-written script focuses on people and relationships as much as it does on boxing, and it successfully avoids the smorgasbord of clichés that often weigh down films of this genre. The picture features a well-developed cast of colorful characters, from Micky’s goofball brother to his self-serving mother to his tough-as-nails girlfriend, all of whom are fleshed out superbly by the film’s stellar ensemble cast. The film has been showered with accolades, too, earning seven Oscar nominations for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best editing, and supporting performance nods for Adams, Leo and Bale. The picture previously garnered six Golden Globe nominations, including best dramatic picture, best director, best dramatic actor (Wahlberg), best supporting actor (Bale) and two nods for best supporting actress (Adams, Leo), with Bale and Leo taking home awards for their efforts.
Corny as it might sound, “The Fighter” is a knock-out in many ways, both as a piece of filmmaking and as a story with an inspiring message. And because of that, it’s easy to see how this story of a contender has successfully become one itself.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.