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Movie Review

Southpaw

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, and some violence.

Reviewed by: Jonathan Potts—first time reviewer
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Sports Action Drama
Length:
2 hr. 3 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
July 24, 2015 (wide—2,750+ theaters)
DVD: October 27, 2015
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Weinstein Company

believing in HOPE

loss of loved one

tragedy

Copyright, The Weinstein Company

feelings of inadequacy and a desperate need for love, money and fame

constant use of alcohol or drugs to dull emotion pain

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

daughter taken by Child Services / Social Services/Foster Care

home repossessed by the bank

fatherlessness

dealing with loss

pride vs. humility

mentoring

anger management

forgiveness vs. revenge

your greatest opponent can be yourself

redemption

working to become a new man

Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What about the Psalm 91 promises? (“…no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent…”) Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer


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the sport of boxing

Featuring: Jake GyllenhaalBilly Hope
Forest WhitakerTitus “Tick” Wills
Rachel McAdamsMaureen Hope
Naomie HarrisAngela Rivera
Rita Ora … Maria Escobar
50 Cent … Jordan Mains
Miguel Gomez (Miguel Gómez) … Miguel Escobar
Beau Knapp … Jon Jon
Clare Foley … Alice
Victor Ortiz … Ramone
Grace Marie Williams … Jordan's Girl
Oona Laurence … Leila Hope
Skylan Brooks … Hoppy
Dominic Colón (Dominic Colon) … Mikey
more »
Director: Antoine Fuqua—“Training Day” (2001), “Shooter” (2007), “The Equalizer” (2014)
Producer: Escape Artists
Fuqua Films
more »
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

“Believe in hope.”

In “Southpaw,” Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope—a champion boxer who’s at the top of his sport when his world suddenly comes crashing down. In the aftermath of tragedy, Billy is faced with the biggest fight of his life—the fight to save his family.

Gyllenhaal, fresh from his Golden Globe nominated role in 2014’s “Nightcrawler,” delivers another knock-out performance in this powerful film that will undoubtedly be seen by some as a “21st-century Rocky.” It’s obvious that Jake spent time in the ring training for “Southpaw,” and his work definitely paid off. He’s very convincing, taking plenty of hits, as well as dishing them out, in a series of bouts worthy of Pay-Per-View.

Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson round out the supporting cast, playing Jake’s wife, daughter, trainer, and agent, respectively. They all add dramatic gravitas to this heavyweight film.

Praiseworthy content

Jake and Rachel are protective of their daughter’s innocence, wanting to shelter her from the violent shows that her friends watch on TV, and also the brutality of Jake’s boxing matches.

Jake submits to his wife by agreeing (at her request) to take a break from boxing to spend more time with his family.

Although much of “Southpaw” is permeated by foul language, Forest Whitaker’s character doesn’t allow the use of foul language in his gym. As you can imagine, this rule is broken a few times, but it is nice to see that his character is trying to create a clean and safe environment for the kids who train there.

Forest, seeing the desperate situation that Jake is in, has compassion on him and becomes sort of a father-figure to Jake. This is significant because it is revealed that Jake grew up in the foster care system and probably didn’t have parental role models.

Jake’s character goes through a dramatic transformation in “Southpaw.” As the film starts, he is a proud fighter motivated by ego and, as it ends, he is a humble father motivated by love.

Offensive content

Language: Over 70 f—words (including one f—word from Jake’s young daughter), 1 middle finger, 3 dozen s—words, g*d-damn (1), hell (3), a** (5), and p*ssy (2).

Violence: The boxing matches are very realistic, with the kinds of bloody eyes and mouths that are to be expected. Jake has a short temper, and there are a handful of violent outbursts in the first half of the film (although none directed toward his family). There is a fist-fight outside the ring. There is one shooting, which is not graphic, but there is some blood shown in the aftermath. In an intense dramatic scene, Jake’s young daughter strikes him several times.

Sex/Nudity: During the boxing matches, the “ring girls” wear 2-piece, bikini-style outfits. Rachel wears a low-cut dress in the opening scene. Rachel straddles Jake in bed (both clothed). Rachel’s dress is pulled up, revealing her panties. Rachel and Jake start to kiss, and the scene ends. Rachel is shown in an open bathrobe wearing 2-piece lingerie (non-sexual context). Jake sits naked in the shower (non-sexual context). It’s a shot from the side and no frontal nudity is shown.

Alcohol/Drugs: In one scene, it is revealed that Jake was driving while intoxicated. There are a couple of scenes with Jake and Forest in a bar. Jake orders water and Forest has an alcoholic beverage.

Conclusion

Make no mistake—“Southpaw” is a very intense film—intense language, intense action, and intense drama. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you have a good idea of where the story goes.

Jake’s character is taken to some dark places, both metaphorically and literally—much of the first half of the movie takes place at night. And, because of the tragic direction of the plot, I was expecting this film to be about revenge.

However, I was pleasantly shocked to discover that “Southpaw” is actually about love. It’s about a man whose entire life is stripped away from him, until the only things that remain are humility and his love for his daughter. Yes, this is a weighty film that treads through some thick mire but, in my opinion, the redemption that comes may make the journey worthwhile.

“Southpaw” is a film for boxing fans. It’s also a film for those who are interested in redemptive stories, and are willing to endure the darkness in order to make it to the light. That said, this is not a film for kids, or for those who are sensitive to vulgar language.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I’ve just watched “Southpaw” and found it amazing. I’ve just come through a marriage breakup, but I still live in hope God will bring us back together. As the movie was finishing, I noticed Forest walking out, he lifted a gold guild-edged book, and it looked like a Bible to me, so I snapped the screen. I hope you can shed light. We all need light in this darkening world. I loved your review and found it to be very true. God bless.
—Barry Thompson
Neutral
Neutral—Just want to comment on the dethroning of God symbolism on display in the movie. Obviously, you know there’s going to be profanity, violence, and very much adult material in an R-rated film. All of that was throughout. This film does not glorify God in many ways, if at all. 50 Cent plays a character having devil characteristics. He is the fight promoter (like a Don King) which tries to get the fighter, Billy Hope to sign a couple of different contracts. The promoter is portrayed as a liar, hustler, doing anything to promote his own brand. If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.

They end up having a boxing match in a church, which is not really delved into. There’s even a ring girl in a bikini with the stained glass in full view the entire time. One of the characters dies as a result of the typical fallen world, and God is questioned as a result. The final match is against a boxer with “King of Kings” tattooed on his back. During the fight, the King of Kings is knocked down in a Christ-like pose in extremely slow motion with the tattoo in view.

The entire theater was applauding and hollering. As a follower in Christ, don’t waste your time. It’s easy to fall into this films trap tale of tear jerk and redemption without noticing the symbols against God.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Chase, age 28 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Southpaw” is a great film. It offers great acting, especially from Jake Gllynhall. He should have won the Oscar for “Nightcrawler,” but unfortunately he didn’t. This is a powerful film, with a lot of drama, but luckily it doesn’t get too sappy. Sure, the film can be dark and depressing, but that’s how life is sometimes. The movie doesn’t have anti-God symbolism, like the viewer (Chase)suggests.

***SPOILER*** A character does not question God. The quote is this: “God must have some kind of plan to teach me some kind of lesson. I just can’t figure out what it is.” ***END SPOILER***

This film deserves to be seen by many.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ty, age 16 (USA)

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