If you’re expecting the old sports movie cliche of all is good in the end, think again. In my opinion thiis is by far one of the greatest movies in the sports genre and is an outstanding come back for 75-year old Hollywood icon Eastwood. Although the title is not exactly of the best for the boxing world and the name itself doesn’t exactly grab your attention the film definitely will, its overwhelming of high and low moments will have you gasping and the ending will certainly have you hanging off the edge of your seats.
Clint Eastwood, plays as a gym owner and boxing manager Frankie Dunn, grumpy old man who lives a very private life and takes his profession in boxing and knows all the tricks of the trade, Morgan Freeman, as former fighter and gym manager Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris acts as the back bone of the relationship between Maggie and Frankie, always there to lend a helping hand when needed, also the voiced narrator throughout the film, reading between the lines for the audience seeing that everything is understood, as in Frank Darabont’s Shawshank Redemption, where he took on the same role as a narrator.
Hilary Swanks’ interpretation of boxer Maggie Fitzgerald is exceptional. She certainly took a huge leap from her extraordinary lead role in 1999 teen romance Boys Don’t Cry. Her character who is metaphorically running as hard and as fast as she can from a white-trash upbringing that’s still stuck to her with an emotional and mental bungee cord – the more she pulls away, the harder her past snaps back and hits her from behind.
The film is about Fitzgerald’s journey through being a boxer, starting at the very bottom, living a poor life and having a eager drive and passion for the thing she wants to do – boxing. Before she makes it anywhere, she has to try and persuade Dunn to train her and be her boxing mentor. The film then shows the typical running of how they live their lives, Fitzgerald living in a one bedroom flat, waiting on tables in order to pay her rent; Dunn living a very moody, private life, who has no friends and no family and Dupris and the one-eyed ex boxer who lives and works in the gym.
From there onwards everything becomes a little cliche and Maggie forms an amazing boxer who is the name on everyone’s lips, talking about every match she wins and she starts raking in the dollars, her and Frankie are finally making money and she is finally able to get rid of her trailer trash title and try and fight for the number one spot of being the million dollar belt holder. This is the peak of the film, the fight goes as expected, Maggie’s opponent is winning but then she gets her chance to shine at the very end which is when she wins, the audience are left biting nails at the edge of their seats but the film is far from over, there is an unexpected immense twist, which is what makes the film what it is an astonishingly brilliant film, the final whistle of the match is blown and Maggie has won the title, but according to her opponent the fight is not over and she still wants to settle the score, she takes a final swing at Maggie, causing her to lose her step and stumble over to the corner of the ring where she falls and snaps her neck on the edge of the stool. Maggie’s dreams are destroyed although she wins the belt and title she doesn’t get to enjoy it.
Hilary Swank has a tough role as the boxer, her character is good-hearted and is so beaten down that she is not able to show a negative side to anyone, even through all the things she experiences with her family and the no appreciation of the fact that she financially provides for them, they still turn their backs on her and laugh at her when she is talking about her boxing career.
The bad relationship she shares with her mum reflects on how determined she is to do well, if there’s anything she wants it is to never have to go back to living a life like her mum, cheating the benefits so she never has to never has to go out.
The actual setting throughout the film is quite clear-cut depending on the mood and atmosphere, the lighting is a majority of the time dark , giving an atmosphere of realism; the music played in the film creates tension at some points whereas at others a sense of relief.
This film received a rating of 7/10 for all that it does for the audience, Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis have definitely done well in showing clear difference between pain, regret and their opposites. I give a full recommendation on the film for anyone who is looking for the not so predictable sports movie as MILLION DOLLAR BABY is just that.