Another boxing movie. But think about how many great boxing movies there have been throughout the history of cinema. And this one stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who is on a great roll lately even if the Academy isn’t recognizing his recent performances. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if he’s not overshadowed in Southpaw by Oona Laurence, the young actress playing his daughter. She’s already receiving rave reviews this month for her part in the SXSW favorite Lamb, and in the above trailer for Southpaw she quickly shows promise of being the next great child star.
Southpaw is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who has been very up and down in his work, but I’m one of the few who really dug his take on The Equalizer last year – and that was a movie that dealt with a man on a violent mission to save the life of a daughter figure. Here the violence is mostly confined to the boxing ring, yet I’m sensing some loose parallels anyway. The script for the movie comes via Kurt Sutter, best known lately as the creator of TV’s Sons of Anarchy, and The Equalizer’s Richard Wenk.
Although I’m sure the premise here can be found in a number of other movies, I can’t help but be reminded of Over the Top. That’s the 1987 Sylvester Stallone movie where he plays a truck driver trying to get custody of his estranged teenage son after the boy’s mother dies. His method of doing so is through winning the World Armwrestling Championship in Las Vegas. The difference for Southpaw, in which Gyllenhaal’s character tries to get custody of his daughter after her mother/his wife (Rachel McAdams) dies, is that boxing is a much more reputable sport, in real life and in the movies. Also, Gyllenhaal is much more respected actor. But just imagine if original star Eminem was still in the lead.
Southpaw also stars 50 Cent, Forest Whitaker, Rita Ora, Naomie Harris and Victor Ortiz and opens July 31, 2015.