Robots taking the place of boxers? Not in my life time. Real Steel was meant to be some time in the future. Not quite Blade Runner, more Mad Max. The US appeared to still be in recession and cash was king. It may prove prescient. The biggest cost for a boxing promoter is the fighter - one Floyd Mayweather payday would be enough to buy a 100 Robo-Boxers . So as a business model it has legs. How many do you want?
As a former boxer, I must admit there was a Luddite-type resistance to the idea. I was also resistant to the concept as a film. I sat there waiting to be entertained but not with much expectation. Bring it on. Is Real Steel the real deal?
The opening gambit was unable to make a dent in my cynicism. A robot was pitched against a bull at a rodeo. Come on, get real, steel! When the bull won, my stolidity took a brief count, it quickly recovered - mainly due to the principal character, Charlie Kenton, also an ex fighter. To his credit, he embraced the technology, yet that was found wanting against the bull. There was not much else to his credit.
A very absent father to Max, aged eleven. Anyway, Max was better off without him. However, circumstances, and a wad of cash for the bad dad, brought father and son together. A friend referred to Kenton as a "bad bet". Like most ex- fighters he was.
Like father, like son. Max too embraced the technology and happenstance delivered to them the boxing equivalent of a washed up fighter. He scrubbed up well, just like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. Atom, as he was called, also lacked courage and brains.
Like Kenton, Atom was a bad bet. But outsiders do win and win and win - very occasionally. Atom is finally matched with the uno numero, Zeus. Zeus versus Atom. It could be a series of the Apprentice. But Kenton & Son are no wallflowers in this David and Goliath battle. Their contribution is integral. It is a Rocky moment in many ways.
The verdict? Somewhere in the film, my cynicism and stolidity was knocked out of me; I didn't see it coming. My emotions were on the ropes a number of times. Excuse the cliché, it knocked me out.
Real Steel is in UK cinemas from today, Friday 14th October.
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