Inspired by a true story from the Los Angeles Times, written by J.R. Moehringer and adapted by Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett for the silver screen, comes a redemption tale focused on the worlds of boxing and journalism.
Rookie sportswriter Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett) is ambitious and wants fame quickly. He is living in the shadows of his late famous father's limelight. His father was a legendary radio sports announcer. Erik's position at the Denver Times is a handout job from his father's old friend Metz (Alan Alda) who is his demanding editor. Erik is a man looking for approval and acceptance from his estranged wife Joyce (Kathryn Morris), who is a creditable staff writer for the same tabloid.
Josh Hartnett's style of acting works well for this movie because it shows a necessary naivete and immaturity for his character. Due to the genuine lack of chemistry between Josh Hartnett and Kathryn Morris on screen as separated husband and wife, I can only assume that casting had that in mind when they put these two actors together. She seemed more like his older sister than his wife. But the strained relationship worked well on the screen.
One day Erik comes across a gang of delinquents beating up an old homeless man named Champ (Samuel L. Jackson). The old guy calls himself Battling Bob Satterfield, who everyone thought died many years ago. His reputation was that he was Rocky Marciano's sparring partner and was ranked #3 in the heavyweight division. Erik befriends Champ and thinks this man's life story is his claim to fame in the literary world. Erik peddles his idea around the tabloid and the newspaper's magazine section picks it up for a major story. Meanwhile, the relationship between Erik and the Champ becomes co-dependent. But Erik's major problem is with due diligence of his material.
Samuel L. Jackson as the Champ is really the spark in this flick. This role shows another dimension to his acting ability. He is aged by makeup and wears a gray wig of dreadlocks and is the perfect picture of a homeless, drunk, and sometimes crazy person of the type that most people avoid on the street. The bond between the two lead characters is the most crucial part of this film, giving a sense of the genuine feelings they have for each other. I also enjoyed the classic filming of the fight scenes in the rings and gyms. It looked authentic and really nostalgic, representing the 1950s boxing era very well.
Samuel L. Jackson is a convincing figure on the screen and I felt compassion for the shell of a man he portrayed. Josh Hartnett excelled in his role as a careless young man in need of finding himself. This part was made for him. Alan Alda, the veteran actor of M*A*S*H gives an impressive performance as a hard-nosed editor. Teri Hatcher and Peter Coyote, who had small roles, contributed to a good story. This movie is about the life of two men, one a has-been trying to regain his life and the other a wanna-be who's looking for a life. I found this to be a good movie.
Directed by: Rod Lurie
Running time:111 minutes
Release date: August 24, 2007
Genre:Drama/Sports and Adaptation
Distributor: Yari Film Group Releasing
MPAA Rating: PG-13