Southpaw

For a while I wondered if this boxing drama might actually forego the climactic bout we’ve all come to expect; it didn’t, but just sustaining the possibility was enough to win me on points. A rags-to-riches knucklehead (Jake Gyllenhaal) resists the pleas of his loyal wife (Rachel McAdams) that he retire as light-heavyweight champion before he takes one too many punches to the skull. Soon afterward he loses her, his title, his fortune, and custody of his daughter, until putting on the gloves again is his only hope. Screenwriter Kurt Sutter ultimately falls prey to too many genre cliches, but you have to admire a fight picture in which the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat both arrive outside the ring. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directed; with Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, and 50 Cent.