I made immediate comparisons to A History of Violence, which I absolutely loved, but where that movie was over in a matter of days, Shadowboxer spans years. Also, as provocative as the scene between Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello on the stairs was, Shadowboxer goes to the extremes on multiple occasions. When it comes to violence, Shadowboxer amps up the gut-churning and pure cold-blooded killing. Clayton and Mikey can kill in cold blood while being savage or truly dispassionate about the act.
There isn't a good person in the whole movie, no innocents standing in the war zone. Everyone's a sinner. Yet I was amazed at how quickly I started to care about Rose and her chosen family. Even Dr. Don, who didn't have much screen presence, brought a lot of emotional weight to the picnic. I think once innocence was dispensed with at the beginning, it was more interesting to see who would make it out alive. And why.
It’s hard to talk about the movie too much without spoiling it. I feel a little constrained by the twists and turns of the plot, so I would love to hear what other people think about it. But I’ll definitely recommend it to anyone who likes crime thrillers that don’t stint on revealing that violent world. The movie definitely offers different sides of Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren. Also, the photography was captivating, moving through a montage of scenes that lays out emotion and characterization as skillfully as a surgeon working around a nerve bundle without a word being uttered.