“Southpaw” opens Friday at Point, Palace and Star Cinemas. R, 2:03, two stars out of four.
Bulked up beyond reason, crazy-eyed and covered in his own blood, Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t look like a good-guy boxer at the opening of “Southpaw.” As Billy “The Great” Hope, Gyllenhaal looks like the guy the good-guy boxer knocks out in the third act in order to win the championship.
Seeing the tattooed, mumbling Hope take shot after shot in the ring, almost cheerfully absorbing the pain, we’re led to be believe that this will be a different sort of boxing drama from director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and writer Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), grittier and meatier. Fuqua shoves the camera into the bloodied faces of his combatants, as if Gyllenhaal is smacking the cameraman sideways instead of his opponent. Out of the ring, Billy seems less like a gladiator than a good-natured if murderous man-child, going where he’s told and letting the people around him make all the decisions for him.