Southpaw is a Rocky wannabe that fails to deliver. It's not bad by any means but it's not good either.
For my own enjoyment I told myself to get immersed as much as possible and follow the story and events and not get distracted by how convenient the misery and drama was. But come on could Antoine Fuqua lay it on a little thicker? Of course sometimes it does seem like bad events happening after another but to this extent and so fast? That is just ridiculous. And what is even worse how writer Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield) stole most plot elements from other boxing films like Rocky, Rocky 5 and Raging Bull. If you need reminding Rocky lost all of his money in Rocky 5 because of his accountant stealing all of it. But this did not happen over night. It took 6 years. Enter Southpaw where Billy Hope loses everything within weeks. Billy Hope has anger issues. No? Really? What an incredible fresh plot point. That has never been done before has it? Oh, wait what was that movie with Robert DeNiro called again? RAGING BULL. Do I need to go on how nothing of Southpaw is remotely fresh and original. To be fair though, I was expecting clichés. Only I wished they would have been used a little better like in Creed for example.
Now he is down and he will have to do whatever it takes to get on top again. Very admirable of course but now Forest Whitaker's character needs convincing. He never trains pro fighters. Seriously? Am I to believe that if you had a real boxing talent and ex world champion in your midst you would need convincing to train and coach him? (And what about Billy Hope, undefeated world champion not knowing how to block. Isn't that like Boxing 101? Wouldn't you get owned all the time if you can't block?)
Look I only could tolerate the bad plot because of the acting. It is what sells the ridiculous dramatic events. Sure some scenes concerning the daughter were heartbreaking. But these scenes also were to add fake drama instead of showing us why all of a sudden the daughter was so angry at him. It does not really matter much because the issues between Billy and Leila are resolved rather quickly also without giving a proper reason why by now she has mellowed out. Tick was sharing his wisdom to Billy and I sort of accepted of what he was saying even when I did had trouble believing that a girl who adored her father so much would turn against him so quickly.
I also enjoyed the few boxing scenes but again Fuqua and Sutter fail to do it properly. There is zero tension in these scenes. Not once do they put you on the edge of your seat like they did in the Rocky films. Stallone always made sure that even when you had a pretty good idea who was going to win that there was a big chance it could go wrong. Besides the fights in his films were so much better choreographed.
Southpaw is decent enough because of the good acting. But even that can't help save this film from drowning. Does it give you a good feeling at the end? Well, yes that is about the only thing they done right. Apart from that it does not convince us of this difficult journey Billy Hope has to go through. Isn't that the whole point of sports movies like these? I can't recommend this. Do watch Creed instead. (That review will be coming soon.)