IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH CLINT EASTWOOD REVIEW: “Million Dollar Baby” stars Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, P.S. I Love You), Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, The Bridges of Madison County), Morgan Freeman (Olympus Has Fallen, The Lego Movie), Jay Baruchel (How to Train Your Dragon, Goon), Mike Colter (Luke Cage [TV series], Men in Black 3), Brian F. O’Byrne (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Bug), Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Adjustment Bureau), Margo Martindale (August: Osage County, Cars 3), Riki Lindhome (Knives Out, The Lego Batman Movie), Bruce MacVittie (When They See Us, Stonewall), Michael Peña (Fury, Ant-Man), and Lucia Rijker (Star Trek , JAG [TV series]). It is directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Paul Haggis (Crash, Walker Texas Ranger [TV series]).
Having lost one of his best boxers to another agent, Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) hesitantly takes on a female fighter, Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank), who’s determined to go the distance.
There were fears walking into this one. I mean… another boxing film. Once you’ve seen a couple, you’ve seen them all. But… not in the case of “Million Dollar Baby.”
Eastwood’s Best Picture winner carries such heart, such gravitas. Just when you think you’ve got it pegged, you don’t. At least, that was my case. There’s a formula you can see on the surface of this picture, but before you know it, the predictable means to get there are shattered, and the story takes a different shape than what you would expect. Of course, I’m speaking in vague terms because, if you have not seen anything about this movie (like myself), it’d be better for you to watch it cold.
I love this film. To make a long story short. I cried, which doesn’t happen often. It’s a work of beauty, this movie is. From the golden performances to the intense boxing to the moralistic fight that builds as this tale reaches its climax. “Million Dollar Baby” is a story of love and heartbreak, and while there are certainly elements that follow the usual beats, Eastwood manages to give a show unlike any other; to make this critic feel something is pretty special.
Hillary Swank is someone I need to see more of. She’s a gifted, incredible actress who shines in this movie. To stand shoulder to shoulder with both Eastwood and Morgan Freeman (who returns to collaborate with his “Unforgiven” partner) is a great feat. Her battle is one to get wrapped up in, and she clearly went through rigorous training to make it all possible.
The fights, the gym, the home life. It’s all captured beautifully, and backed by a nice musical theme that is strung throughout. Which, by the way, is composed by Eastwood himself. Excuse me? Apparently, he does music for some of his films (including “Mystic River,” which I didn’t mention). This is a man of many talents, and I only thought it to be necessary to bring his musical talents up. Sure, the score to this one doesn’t achieve the perfection of some of the great composers around, but he does a pretty darn good job nonetheless (I do love the theme of it all).
Overall, this is another actor piece that kills. On top of that, it’s a story that hits home, pulling heartstrings and watering eyes. I took great joy in watching “Million Dollar Baby,” and I’m pretty sure you will too. Please, when given the opportunity, see it. FINAL SCORE: 96%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: