Friday, September 25, 2009

The Boxer (1997)


Just released from prison, after spending 14 years due to his part in an IRA attack when he was 19, boxing prodigy Danny Flynn (Daniel Day Lewis) attempts to re-ignite his once promising boxing career. Kicking up a friendship with his once girlfriend (Emily Watson), who is now married to his best friend, and his childhood trainer (Ken Stott), his fights soon become a symbol for peace in the war torn nation. Unfortunately though, not all IRA members take so kindly to his decisions, and Flynn must decide who matters most to him in life.

The third, and final, Sheridan+Lewis combination is by far and wide agreed to be the weakest of the 3 (the other two being My left foot and In the Name of the Father). And so far I can't really disagree with that. Lewis is predictably good in the role of Flynn, while Sheridan takes a keen eye to bringing to life the social issues of the time. Unfortunately though all the parts on this film don't mesh well.

Sheridan's decision to keep the audience at arms length, while great in allowing perspective, forces the audience out of the emotion of our main characters. We like them, we want to get to know them, and we feel bad when something happens to them, but it's never really impactful, all the way in your stomach. As such we get a film that's sad at times uplifting at times, has a good plot, good characters, and interest, but never really evolves into something memorable.

The best you get here is watching Brian Cox (the diplomatic leader of the IRA), Lewis, and the always lovable Watson interacting. Lewis and Watson's chemistry allows their budding romance, and yet cautious attitude, to really get you through the film. The fight scenes are quiet, no background noise, no slow motion whams, very standard, and I have to say I kind of liked them. The pacing for them does feel a bit off, but they exist solely as ways of showing us a little bit of insight to our main character, perhaps the only place we really find it.

Overall though, The Boxer is a fine film with some good qualities, but it never takes the next step, and is sadly forgettable.

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