English Film Reviews
Punchy but not Hard hitting
Film: Hands of Stone
Cast: Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramírez, Usher Raymond IV, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, Ruben Blades, Drena De Niro, Reg E. Cathey, David Arosemena, Ana de Armas, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Óscar Jaenada, Pedro "budu" Perez, Yancey Arias, Reg Cathey
Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz
Rating: * * ½
Runtime: 105 mins
A biopic, ‘Hands of Stone’ follows the life of Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramírez), the Panamanian fighter who, with the help of his trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) made his professional debut in 1968 as a 16 year old and much later, retired in 2002 at the age of 50. And throughout his illustrious career he won many big fights including the one in June 1980, when he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) to capture the WBC welterweight title. But later in the November rematch he shocked the boxing world by returning to his corner saying 'no más' (‘no more').
Jonathan Jakubowicz has a lot of ground to cover and he does it in speedy ineffective fashion. You never get to know the principal character’s motivations other than the deprivations of his early youth. The rivalry with “Sugar” Ray Leonard is hinted at but it’s not the spine of the film as it should have been.
Jakubowicz cradle to retirement version depicts Durán as a scrappy kid on the streets of Panama through his rise in the sport, his thrilling capturing of the welterweight title against Leonard in 1980, his infamous fall and then his resurrection as in his triumphant return as light middleweight champion at Madison Square Garden. You also get his family life with wife and five kids, his nationalistic pride and it’s all being told from the point of view of Ray Arcel, his trainer. So the focus is all over the place and involvement is piecemeal at best.
Ana De Armas and Edgar Ramirez make their presence felt and so does Robert De Niro -but it’s all to no avail because you never really get involved in what’s happening on screen. Jakubowicz’ narrative tries to do too much and as a result the gains are too little. Everything becomes a blur in the flurry to get to the finish line. So when you get out of the theatre there’s not a single memorable moment to stay with you- even though it’s all earnest and gritty!