It’s not unusual for movie trailers to spoil important plot elements. It happens more than you might realize. Case in point: 2015’s Southpaw. The trailers revealed essentially every detail of the plot. To be fair, the film is a bit predictable in its own right, but it would’ve been nice to not know certain elements beforehand. The internet hasn’t helped matters where the message boards and social media spew out plot specifics endlessly. Still, we can make a choice to avoid those things until after we’ve seen a film. When you’re sitting in a theater, it’s hard to look away when a trailer is being shown to you. Anyhow, I still feel compelled to not dive into all the plot specifics for those who’ve yet to see the film.
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy “The Great” Hope. He is a successful lightweight champion and is married to Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and has a good relationship with his young daughter Leila. There’s an element that then happens that puts Billy on something of a downward slope. As I mentioned earlier, I won’t reveal this, but it leads Billy to Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker). Tick is a trainer who agrees to help Billy get back on track. We get various other dramatic elements that include Billy fighting to not to lose custody of his daughter. Admittedly, we’ve seen these types of films before, but I was willing to just go with it here. I think it’s in large part due to the strong acting, especially from Jake Gyllenhaal. He transformed his body for this role, and it shows. There wasn’t a second that I doubted his ability to hold his own in the ring. I never had a doubt in my where the film was headed, but the journey is worth taking.
Video: How’s it look?
There aren’t many movies about boxing that aren’t gritty in at least some sense of the word. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image has everything we’ve come to expect from a new to Blu-ray film and let’s just say that this personifies the boxing movie genre. Blacks are spot on, with contrast making for a very unique look and feel for some of the scenes. Detail is razor sharp, we can see the definition in Gyllenhaal’s physique, the facial hair and the cuts on his face. Suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a realistic boxing film – this is second to none.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Not to be outdone, the “thuds” of the punches resonate through the speakers like you were in the audience. Well I guess as a viewer you are in the audience, but you know what I mean! Sports movies, boxing and football in particular, just seem to have an extra “oomph” to them that really get the viewer involved in the film. Certainly the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is chock full of amazing-sounding scenes. Vocals are rich and pure, lacking any distortion. Trust me when I say that this is a good-sounding track and it will not leave the viewer disappointed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Deleted Scenes – Eight total, though one of them really seem to add any depth to the film itself.
Southpaw: Inside the Ring – Somewhat of a rundown on the film with some interviews with the cast and crew. More to the point, director Antoine Fuqua gives his take on Gyllenhaal’s physical transformation as well as the authenticity of the boxing movie genre.
Q&A with Cast – As the title suggests, a Q & Q session with most of the principal members of the cast and crew. This took place in Los Angeles, July 13, 2015.
Extended Training Montage – If you’ve ever seen a Rocky movie, then this is in the same vein. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal shows you what it takes to get his figure.
The Bottom Line
It’s nothing original, and a bit predictable, but Southpaw works in large part to the strong performances. It’s well worth watching. I’d advise a rental first as it might not hold a lot of replay value.