The boxing movie limps to the next bout with the arrival of the trailer for Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy Hope, a former lightweight champ hauling himself back into the ring for one last fight after the death of his wife (Rachel McAdams) and the state’s removal of his daughter (Oona Laurence) into care.

Originally conceived as a star vehicle for Eminem and touted as a sequel of-sorts to 8-Mile, the trailer’s debuted on the rapper’s website. Gyllenhaal, who shot Southpaw directly after playing gaunt newshound Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler, packed on the pounds for Fuqua. His Billy looks buff, but beat: battered into a corner and swallowing blood.

The actor’s on form and a physical part like this gives him plenty to swing at, but we’re not sure the script is in his corner. Co-writer Richard Wenk penned The Equalizer, The Expendables 2 and The Mechanic. There’s something lumbering about the trailer’s dialogue (“The more you get hit, the harder you fight”) and the premise – meathead with heart fights for love – is as hackneyed as a prizefighter taking a fall.

Still, it’s got the Fuqua energy. Mirrors get smashed, cars are driven too fast, the sun sets in timelapse over a city skyline. Men fight and cry and flex and roar. Women are dead (McAdams), betrayed (Laurence) or embittered (Rita Ora, on hand as a “tough junkie with a kid to protect”, according to Harvey Weinstein). Perhaps all the thudding impact will add up to some kind of punch drunk grace. At this point Southpaw looks bulky and broad. It’s got the heart of a bull and the subtlety of a haymaker.

Southpaw hits US and UK cinemas on 31 July

This article was written by Henry Barnes, for on Friday 27th March 2015 15.40 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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