Thursday, 23 July 2015

Trailer Check: Southpaw (2015)

© The Weinstein Company | Source: YouTube screencap

southpaw /ˈsaʊθpɔː/ 
  A left-handed boxer who leads with the right hand

I'm a sucker for sports movies, especially those about boxing. Raging Bull, Rocky, Warrior, The Fighter - you name it, I've watched it. So, naturally, I'm beyond excited for the release of Antoine Fuqua's latest feature in two days time. And if I choose to go by the most recent trailer alone, Southpaw is certainly bound to impress.

There seems to be a familiar formula at hand here. Like every self-respecting boxing movie, Southpaw needs a washed-up boxer at its centre who, against all odds, has to use the power of his mind and fists to regain his dignity. In this case, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses control over his life and sporting career after the tragic death of his beloved wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams). In order to get back on track and, most importantly, win back the custody for his young daughter Leila (Oona Laurence), he teams up with boxing coach Tick (Forest Whitaker), the obligatory good soul of the story, and promoter Jordan Mains (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson).Yes, when it comes to plot, Southpaw fulfils all the requirements necessary to satisfy fans of the genre. 

The look conveyed in the trailer further recommends the film as a rather down-to-earth summer movie far from all the superhero and dinosaur fare going on this year. Instead of with CGI ecstasy and ambitions of world domination, Southpaw presents us with a quite unusual topic for a blockbuster of the hot season: a raw human interest story. Fittingly, Training Day director Fuqua has created a gritty atmosphere, using a washed-out colour scheme and occasional depictions of violent outbursts. Billy's hardship is present in every second of the trailer. 

The script penned by The Shield producer and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter also adds a certain gangster flair to the story by depicting Maureen as a victim of two rivalling sporting camps, and Billy as a desperate husband out for revenge. This contributes to the general feeling of mayhem and unease palpable in the two-minute preview as well. It only remains to be seen if the film will eventually be able to effectively unite the genres of sports drama, underdog tale and crime thriller, which it evokes in the trailer.

It might still be slightly early to start off award season, but Gyllenhaal certainly looks like he's about to put a foot in the door to the upcoming Oscar race. The trailer suggests a physical and emotional tour de force by the 34-year-old actor. I personally cannot wait to see his character travel from self-loathing to self-esteem. And with the likes of Whitaker and McAdams as support, the rest of the cast isn't meant to disappoint either.

Despite a rather gloomy preface, the trailer ensures that there'll also be a goosebump-inducing, spirit-raising finale at the end - as there should be. With the song "Kings Never Die" by Eminem and Gwen Stefani playing in the background, there's no doubt that, eventually, Southpaw is all about the underdog making it out of a personal crisis. Like most of its successful boxing predecessors, it seems to make use of the feel-good factor, allowing audiences to leave the cinema in an uplifting, nothing's-impossible kind of spirit.

Southpaw's uppercut may come unexpectedly, but it definitely has all the potential to throw a wicked punch towards critical praise and box office glory. Let's get ready to rumble!

Release: 24 July 2015
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