The Screening Room
Where have you been, Mickey? We've missed you, buddy. That toughness set you apart from the Tom Cruises and Sean Penn's of the 1980s. Then you seemed to disappear, which is unfortunate, because we really liked how you acted.

“The Wrestler” is now available on Blu-ray.

I'm not in the camp of loving "The Wrestler," but I did find it's a well acted film. Mickey Rourke is extraordinary as a sort of Rocky Balboa character trying to come to grips with his flawed life. He's what makes this movie worth watching, even though there are more fine performances by Marissa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood.

The movie is fairly predictable, and maybe my view of it is skewed from the preview that basically told its entire story. I didn't find much that suprised me about it. The writing was on the wall. I'm sure pro wrestling fans who grew up in the 1980s will love this film. It gives an audience a glimpse into the crazy world of wrestling.

Rourke is very convincing as a washed up wrestler, Randy "The Ram" Robinson. His role reminded my of "Rocky Balboa" in which a washed up boxer (Sly Stallone) tries to redeem himself. The Ram is beyond his own legendary past, living in his van and trying to make enough money to survive. His daughter hates him, and he doesn't quite know how to warm the heart of Marissa Tomei. He's very likable and you wonder how and why he got to this low point in his life.

Back in the real 1980s, Rourke was an up-and-coming box office attraction. He showed tons of confidence and charisma. He was one of those rare actors both guys and girls could appreciate. At times, he was overboard in an overboard movie ("Year of the Dragon"), yet completely powerful in "Diner." By the 1990s and into the 21st century, Rourke seemingly disappeared, though he did still act. The roles weren't anything special, and the public moved on. A rising star fell to earth.

From what I understand, "The Wrestler" spoke to Rourke and in a way, is very much a story about himself. Here was a handsome actor who sprialed into obscurity. He became a professional boxer, but in the process lost some of his looks. He was no longer the screen idol audiences remembered him as. In this film, we see beyond the scars and look inside a sad and fragile man. I'm not sure if it's a reflection on the real Mickey Rourke, but I've thought of him as a tough guy on the outside, yet vulnerable on the inside. This role suits him well. 

The film isn't glamorous and it tries hard to be edgy. The cinematography is ultra grainy and the camera appears handheld through most of the film. It's almost as if the filmmakers were trying too hard to make the film dank and purpose driven. There's a little bit of "Rocky Balboa" mixed with the original "Rocky" in it. There's the stripper with a heart. There's the daughter who's disgusted with her father and yells at him as he tries to get back in her life. In reality, the film plays almost like a television drama because the story offers nothing fresh. What holds it together is Rourke's performance.

There were some beautifully done scenes with Rourke coming to terms with his daughter, for instance, where we see his vulnerablity. The film doesn't run with it, though. This was a genuine seen of emotional pain, but the script returns the audience quickly back to Wood being angry with Rourke. It seems that Tomei, the stripper with a heart, has more love for Rourke. The story would've worked better, and had a better pay off in the end, with a father/daughter core.

The Blu-ray continues Fox's excellence in the format. Don't expect the image quality to be spectacular, because it's due to the extreme grain in the film. This is normal. The picture looks fine for what it is. The colors are muted and the whole film looks very independent & edgy.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is excellent, sounding better/louder/cleaner than another recent Blu-ray release, "Sin City." "The Wrestler" has a rich soundstage with some depth to the sound image. It's an impressive mix featuring some 1980s heavy metal music. Wrestling and metal fans will rejoice over this Blu-ray.

It's great to see Mickey Rourke take center stage again.   

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: © 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
Blu-ray Quick Glimpse



Well acted comeback for Mickey Rourke

Director: Darren Aronofsky  

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marissa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Behind-the-scenes, digital copy and more


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Rourke doesn't look like his screen idol shelf from the 1980s, but he's damn good

Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)


April 21, 2009
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