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Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw pairs Training Day and The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua with actor Jake Gyllenhaal (who’s on a hot streak after home-run performances in Prisoner, Enemy, and Nightcrawler), for a gritty sports tale written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. If that doesn’t convince you that this film could be a welcome change of pace from the usual big-budget spectacle of the summer movie season, then maybe the latest trailer for Southpaw (see above) will do the trick.

Gyllenhaal stars in Southpaw as Billy “The Great” Hope , a boxer who’s on top of the world, after being crowned the Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. However, that’s when tragedy strikes, as the result of an altercation between Billy and one of his rivals, and Billy finds his once ideal existence quickly shattered. This sets the professional fighter on a search to find spiritual redemption and put his broken family back together, by returning to the boxing ring once again.

The first Southpaw trailer examined the relationship between Billy and his daughter Alice (Clare Foley, who portrays Ivy on Gotham), following the death of Billy’s wife and Alice’s mother, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), but the newly-released theatrical preview cuts right to the chase of Billy’s quest to repair his life and make up for past mistakes. Southpaw‘s latest trailer also makes effective use of the tune “Phenomenal”, which is an original song written and performed by Eminem for the film; it’s the second time the rapper/songwriter has done an original number for a Fuqua movie, after his and Sia did “Guts Over Fear” for The Equalizer.

Southpaw (going by the trailers) hit most of the expected plot beats for the sports drama genre, while at the same exploring similar family melodrama subject matter as Sutter did (with inconsistent results) throughout Sons of Anarchy‘s run.

Nonetheless, the narrative seems compelling (its familiarity aside), while Fuqua’s direction seems on-point as usual, and Gyllenhaal’s emotional performance show signs of being as ferocious as his impressive physical transformation for the role of Billy Hope. This movie could prove to be the next Warrior, for those reasons.

The supporting cast for Southpaw also inspires, um, hope for the tale of Billy Hope, with people such as Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) playing key roles. There will also be appearance by celebrities like singer/songwriter 50 Cent (Power) and real-life champion boxer Victor Ortiz (The Expendables 3), whose recognizability may help the film to attract a wider audience, if nothing else.

Southpaw opens in U.S. theaters on July 24th, 2015.

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