Resurrecting The Champ is unique breed of boxing drama; it’s not a morale boosting rags to riches tale nor is it a particularly engaging character study. Whilst the title and poster may trick you into believing it will share the same themes and formulaic structure of the Rocky series, it bears no resemblance to that franchise. Instead we are presented with another True Story’ tale that catastrophically fails to live up to its promising premise thanks to a hackneyed and overly sentimental third act.
Josh Hartnett plays Erik Kernan Jr., a misguided and disillusioned news reporter whose recent divorce has led to a lack of focus and success with his sport related news articles. Things change when he comes across a homeless man (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to be a boxing legend (Samuel L Jackson). Erik plans to let the world know about the champ’s tale in the hope that it will lift his credibility as a news reporter.
The film shines when Samuel L Jackson is on screen thanks to his dependably good performance; his character is enigmatic, engaging and entirely convincing. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Josh Hartnett as the protagonist. He portrays a very weak two-dimensional character, with forced exposition peppered throughout the movie relaying such dialogue as “It reminds me of when my father left at the most inappropriate moments. However you can see that Josh makes the most of a threadbare role, as a couple of scenes do stand out. The second half of the movie fails to inspire as the emphasis shifts over to the character of Erik. Be prepared for some cringe-worthy monologues and family reunions straight out of the Hollywood production line.
Resurrecting The Champ is director Rod Lurie’s (The Last Castle) cinematic offering, but what starts off as a promising and refreshing take on the genre quickly descends into a contradictory mess. It’s ironic that Resurrecting the champ attempts to discuss the morality of manipulating the truth in order to entertain the masses yet it does exactly the same with the source material, turning what could have been an edgy situational drama into a formulaic and sentimental tale.
Overall Verdict: It’s not all bad news; the first half of the movie is emotive, intriguing and most importantly refreshing, with multiple stand out scenes filled with witty and clever dialogue. Some may enjoy the final moments of the film despite its disappointing final sentiment.
Reviewer: Sam Barnett