‘Southpaw’ May Be Loaded With Cliches, But Jake Gyllenhaal Helps Make It Phenomenal

Southpaw featured some huge names to go along with Jake Gyllenhaal, but this wasn’t one of those movies where the star gets overshadowed. The Southpaw lead actor, who goes by Billy Hope, was simply spectacular to say the least.

The Southpaw cast featured Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, 50 Cent, and the up-and-coming Miguel Gomez. Even with the long list of names, the star of Southpaw grabbed the spotlight right out of the gate. Many critics were torn when it came to the reviews of Southpaw, but one writer may have nailed it on the head. This was Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle.

LaSalle had the following to say about Southpaw.

“Forget boxing. Southpaw delves into what happens when a person loses everything. An instinctive man, Billy does things in response that might not make sense to most people. But Jake Gyllenhaal finds the emotional through line in Sutter’s script, showing us someone who wants to feel pain, wants to be pummeled, wants to die, and wants to fight the world. It’s one of the great performances of a man being eaten up inside…”

When talking about Southpaw, LaSalle essentially hit the nail on the head. This movie wasn’t about boxing, it wasn’t trying to be Rocky and it absolutely pulled at your heartstrings multiple times. Southpaw was everything that it should have been, which ended up completely overshadowing any cliches in the film.

For any fan of boxing movies, or sports movies in general for that matter, it’s easy to see the Southpaw preview and immediately try to compare it to Rocky. To sum it up as simply as possible, that just wouldn’t be fair. Southpaw is about a boxer’s fall from greatness and his rally back to the top, but Gyllenhaal’s performance is what pushes this one to another level.

Jake Gyllenhaal, well, he was phenomenal in Southpaw.

Gyllenhaal gave us an incredible performance in Southpaw, but it’s the work and time that he put in that may blow you away just as much as his acting. While most boxing movies don’t feature the actual hitting, the blood and the, well, fighting, Southpaw was the exact opposite of that according to CSMonitor.

“We shot it like we would shoot a real fight. We did real rounds. We didn’t even stop to light it. When he was exhausted, when his lungs were hurting, when he was spitting blood? That was real,” said Fuqua.

That quote comes from Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua, who trained right there with Gyllenhaal twice a day for months. The fact that Gyllenhaal was actually taking punches and truly going through rounds in the ring during Southpaw is pretty amazing. As for Gyllenhaal’s actual training for Southpaw? Well, as previously reported, it was pretty much incredible.

Southpaw wasn’t Rocky and it wasn’t Raging Bull. In all honesty though, you shouldn’t go into the movie with the mindset that Southpaw is going to be either of those two. The boxing is great and completely thrilling, but the backstory and drama from start to finish in Southpaw is what will keep you glued to the screen.

[Image via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]