Rising from a troubled upbringing to achieve boxing greatness, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) has everything he could hope for, including a loving wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and a young daughter (Oona Laurence).
His boxing style is relentless and this anger and aggression bubbles over into his private life as he reels from a personal tragedy that sees his daughter taken into care and leaves Hope with nothing.
Seemingly at rock bottom, Hope starts training at a local gym owned by seasoned boxer Titus Wills (Forest Whitaker) in the hope of gaining a shot at redemption and settling a score with fate.
At times, director Antonie Fuqua is guilty of heavy-handed melodrama as he creates a rollercoaster of visceral emotions, but the strength of performances from Gyllenhaal, Whitaker and McAdams goes a good way in atoning for this.
One thing that Southpaw gets right – and you’d hope it would – are the boxing scenes. Fuqua is a boxer himself and employs a range of camera angles that put you right in the ring, taking the punches along with Hope.
Expect few narrative surprises – this is not a film that reinvents the wheel – but what it does, it does strongly and fluidly, just like a good boxer.
HITMAN: AGENT 47
Genetically engineered assassin Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is death personified, undergoing intense training (and 46 previous versions) to become a cold and unfeeling executioner. His latest assignment sees him in pursuit of the creator of the Agent programme, Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), before a mysterious mega-corporation can get their hands on him and create an army of killers. Fully loaded with action, Hitman: Agent 47 is exercised with impressive visual flair, but ultimately suffers from a lack of personality. Still, it’s not quite as bad as the miserable failure to bring the video game to the screen back in 2007.
We Are Your Friends
Cole (Zac Efron) is a struggling DJ, desperate to make a name for himself in the world of electronic dance music. As he searches for the “one track” that will change everything for him, he is taken under the wing of a disillusioned older DJ, James (Wes Bentley), who becomes his mentor. Matters are complicated when Cole and James’ girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski) find themselves drawn into a forbidden relationship that will ultimately lead to some tough choices for the aspiring star. The emotional tempo of this film is set high and the music is bound to move you.
PREVIEW: The Games Maker
Enthralled by board games, Ivan Drago (David Mazouz) enters the fantastical world of inventing them, which leads to many adventures with his grandfather who, as it turns out, was once a legendary games maker himself. With a dark Harry Potter-esque feel at times, The Games Maker is bound to be a hit with kids.
A political thriller that spans India, Europe, America and the Middle East, Phantom follows former army officer Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) as he is contracted to kill a group of terrorists. Approaching the often difficult issue of cross-border terrorism, Phantom deserves praise for its vision and the resulting film is a powerful and gripping piece of cinema.