I remember back when I first saw the trailer for Fighting and thought to myself: “Ugh, this looks kinda lame. But ooo! Channing Tatum! Well I have to see it now…” Yeah I know. But trust me, sitting through this movie was punishment enough for that mistake.
The problem with Fighting is that the only silver lining is there are a lot of shirtless guys, which only works for part of the audience. Everything else that matters to good filmmaking is horrible, the most obvious being the dialogue. Weak cannot even begin to describe how bad it was. Instead, I would even say that it would have been much better if the actors just improvised all of their lines. The best dialogue actually comes from a character’s grandma, who speaks with such a thick accent that only half of what she says is understandable. I understand that there have been some horribly written films that have still had good stories, and/or are at least entertaining to watch (Star Wars: Episode III anyone?), but Fighting doesn’t have anything to fall back on.
The story follows Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum), a poor young man stewing in daddy issues, who peddles umbrellas, fake books, iPods, etc, on the streets of New York. Early into the story, an opportunity punches him in the face when Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard, giving an incredibly underwhelming performance) sees fight club potential in Shawn. He is quickly thrown into the world of underground fighting, winning fights after fight, which can only be thanks to pure luck (especially considering the expected training montage is never supplied. I don’t think punching thin air on a subway counts). Furthermore, what is probably trying to become some sort of social commentary on the rich living off of the poor, and/or a look at the depths people will sink to in order to survive, fails miserably as the film progresses through this story of hot temperaments and revenge.
Fighting moves from bad to worse when considering the other aspects of the film. Not only are the character’s poorly developed, but also, the romantic element of the film is just as horrible. What starts as a cute attraction between Shawn and Zulay quickly becomes an unrealistically fast-paced love story, which fails horribly as Shawn tries to live up to the gallant knight in shining armor that his last name alludes to, making Romeo and Juliet’s love more believable. And to round it all up, the film appears to be shot by a lazy and/or blind camera operator, as the film is riddled with awkward angles and even worse shot compositions.
To put it simply, don’t see Fighting because you will wish you were the one being knocked out.
Final Grade: D