Tag Archives: Training Day

Southpaw (2015)

15 Aug

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion, enjoying a life of celebrity and wealth with his beautiful wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). Billy’s life soon spirals out of control however, soon after losing his wife in a bizarre act of violence spurred on by a competing boxer.  The stakes are raised when Billy’s child is taken into custody by Child Protection Services, and it’s up to Billy to piece his life back together if he wants his daughter (yawn) back.

Southpaw is a gritty boxing film that tries to examine the lengths a father is willing to go to win back his daughter’s love; it sort of works. Starring alongside Racheal McAdams, Forest Whitaker, 50 Cent, and Naomie Harris, is Jake Gyllenhaal – a lumbering towering figure of muscle and pure rage. As always, Gyllenhaal makes for a captivating screen presence. With him, Southpaw makes for a watchable but barely enjoyable film; without him, the haphazard storytelling, and trite emotional punches bring the film to the ground faster than a KO’d novice boxer.

For such a cookie-cutter role, Gyllenhaal really does give a solid performance. It’s obvious he has completely sucked himself into the role, and everything from his cautious mannerisms to his accent-ridden, quavering voice bring sincerity to even the sappiest bits of dialogue. Unfortunately, there is too much sentimentality here to go around, and Southpaw dissolves into an enjoyable piece of melodrama at its best, and a formulaic lifetime-movie at it’s worst. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) is no stranger to violence or melodrama, but he seems to have outdone himself here. Thanks to lots of quick edits and dramatized chiaroscuro lighting, most of the action feels more like an uninspired music video than an effective way of advancing the plot.

Bottom Line:  While Gyllenhaal is surely worth watching, the majority of Southpaw spends too much effort building up an emotionally over-exhausted story. 

Rating: 5/10 

Film Recipe: Glory Road (2006) – Basketball + Rocky (1976) + “Believing in yourself”

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End of Watch (2012)

2 Oct

Adding to the already monstrous pile of found footage films, End of Watch gives us an inside look of the infamous Los Angeles Police Department.  Brian Taylor (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) are two L.A.P.D. partners who get involved with a conspiring drug cartel.

Gyllenhaal and Pena are both great together on-screen and they each drive the film with humor and sincere emotion. You really become attached to these two leads and the film cleverly shows us what is going on in their lives, both on and off the streets.

Though the shaky-cam was extremely annoying at first, you get adjusted to it after a while and instead focus on the film’s story.

And for a found-footage film, End of Watch has an extremely good story. David Ayer, who is no stranger to crime movies (he also wrote Training Day and The Fast And The Furious), directs the action and performances with perfection.  I wasn’t expecting too much from  End of Watch, but it really blew me away with it’s emotion and many clever plot twists.

End of Watch is far from perfect (the horribly over-used shaky cam is one of the obvious flaws), but the film is very well done and I was much more emotional than I thought I would be when the film finished.

Which is always a good sign.

rating  7/10