But if his bulging biceps aren't enough to get you to buy a ticket, the reviews might not have you completely sold either. The critics all seem to adore Gyllenhaal as well as actress Rachel McAdams, but Southpaw's plot—well, it takes a few hits. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw describes the the Antoine Fuqua-directed film as "a slick but soulless and cynical boxing film in which shows none of Gyllenhaal's crackling charisma." He goes on to write that it's "aggressively bulked up like Gyllenhaal himself," calling Southpaw "a hammy, cynical empty boxing movie."
Kyle Smith of the New York Post agreed, lamenting that the movie, "brings back every stale genre convention you can think of, then hopes you won't recognize predictability pumped up with swearing and steroids and an Eminem song during the training montage."
Others, though, like Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson, attest that although we, "may have reached the boxing movie saturation point," Gyllenhaal's performance makes this particular film "work a look." Lawson is impressed with McAdams' acting as well, noting that she "is, as ever, slightly better than the material."
Noticing a theme, here?
The Weinstein Company
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praises Southpaw's acting, too, writing that even though the movie itself "dribbles into sappiness...it is redeemed by Gyllenhaal's virtuoso performance."
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune agrees, writing, "The script may have hamburger for brains, but Fuqua slams it home with the help of actors who give their all—even when giving a little less might have made things more interesting." He also predicts Southpaw will do well at the box office, reasoning the whole movie "may well find a large audience for a simple, blunt fair tally about a hunk with a heart as big as Madison Square Garden."
And then there's Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com, who writes that even though Southpaw is "enter(ing) the long filmography of boxing flicks...it puts up a surprisingly good fight."
Hey, if anyone can get us past what seems to be collective boxing movie fatigue, Gyllenhaal's the one to do it.
Southpaw opens in theaters Friday.