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Posted October 1, 2010
[3.5]--Some of major critics in this world surly got it twisted.
This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart. It contains a great deal of graphic violence and sex and it’s not as bad as it seems. However, the scenes are shot wonderfully and the acting on here might surprise you. It is over-the-top and surreal and yes more than a bit mad which turned out to be an interesting film. In here we have a contract killer by the name of Rose (Helen Mirren) who is diagnosed with cancer she elects to continue with her work, aided by her stepson/lover Mikey (Cuba Gooding Jr.). When on a routine assignment, Rose balks at killing the pregnant wife (Vanessa Ferlito) of a gangster (Stephen Dorff), instead hiding her away as the three raise the child in seclusion. As the years pass, the frosty and distant Mikey becomes a father figure to the child, which endangers his life and profession when his past comes looking for revenge. The way “Shadowboxer” moves, you can understand that it’s a film that wants to set itself apart from the routine hit man cinema agenda. Director Lee Daniels is hunting for anything that will stand out to the audience, so he goes to a very unexpected place: sex. I had great time watching this film and thought that Helen Mirren, Gordon Levitt Hewitt along with Cuba Gooding Jr. were amazing. I really have to hand it to Cuba Gooding Jr. because he turned his character into a solid performance and delivered his role strongly, silently, and a subtle way. Few people will ever get to see the commitment he made to this part, but I saw it and salute him. He's been down on his luck, and I hope he starts to draw better hands into these types of films because comedy doesn’t suite him. The only real negative is that the dialogue because it isn’t very original or punchy. Gooding almost never speaks, and the women are given rather mundane verbal work. It takes a great director to pull off what could be a creepy relationship between a mother and son an turn it into a tender love story. The films somber overtone does not slow the action down in he slightest but you can obviously see that it had room for improvement. Stephen Dorff character was one piece of work and is a completely unbelievable one-dimensional villain, but the film works for me, despite or because of those elements. As the Times pointed out, the extravagant action may impress you or make you laugh, but it won't bore you, and it's difficult to predict. Plus, for all you Macy Gray fans, it is always good to see her on screen as she adds a bit of levity to this dramatic tale. Furthermore the film's emotional manipulation is powerful and skillful enough to generate the responses it hopes for. This is the first film for director Lee Daniels, but he shows complete command of the material, and has no problem shifting from family drama to outrageous black comedy to lurid sex and violence. His musical selections include such diverse elements as tangos, waltzes, hip-hop, and romantic faux-classical. His sets are opulent and gaudy. His production values are lush, and his shooting locations are chosen with an eye to the off-kilter. And the man's love for Philadelphia and its 'burbs is evident in every frame. “Shadowboxer” is a great start for director Lee Daniels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.