A Razor-Sharp Performance; Samuel L. Jackson Gives Real Potency to 'Champ'

By Soergel, Matt | The Florida Times Union, August 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

A Razor-Sharp Performance; Samuel L. Jackson Gives Real Potency to 'Champ'


Soergel, Matt, The Florida Times Union


Byline: MATT SOERGEL

Resurrecting the Champ has a sneaky sucker punch that it's holding back, but it still won't be enough to knock you out.

At that, we'll resist the temptation to offer any more boxing analogies to note that it's hardly a total loss, however. Any movie with Samuel L. Jackson in it guarantees a lively, and most likely brilliant performance.

And he is brilliant here as a grizzled, dreadlocked alley-dweller named the Champ, a one-time boxing legend who's discovered by a second-rate reporter played by Josh Hartnett.

The callow scribe sees in this old bum the story that'll make him a star, an ego boost he needs after he's humiliated by his crusty sports editor, nicely played by Alan Alda, who's having a fine second wind in his career playing jerks.

Hartnett plays a reporter for the fictional Denver Times, set in a Denver that doesn't look a bit like Denver (turn any corner in that city and, smog willing, you'll see the Rockies - but not here). But that's what you get for filming in Canada.

Resurrecting the Champ starts off as a yarn about an old underdog sports hero, but it really should be filed under "J" for journalism movies. It's about ambition and selling out and newsroom ethics, and that context makes the film a little more complex than it might appear. Director Rod Lurie (The Contender) was a journalist himself, and many of newsroom details feel right, though the people are awfully pretty.

The movie loses focus, though, as it goes off on a big sentimental tangent about fathers and sons. …

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