Hands of Stone

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“Ring sense is an art,” intones legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) at the beginning of this strange and scattered Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramirez) biopic, “you’re either blessed with it from the day you’re born, or cursed without it until the day you die.” It’s as good a line as any to illuminate the film’s flaws. For one thing, if it’s a sense, it’s not an art. For another, it’s the last time we ever hear about ring sense, Durán’s or anyone else’s. For still another, it precludes the possibility of change, which is sort of antithetical to story, so why are we hearing about it? And for the finishing touch, what story there is here has much more to do with Durán’s out-of-ring sense than anything inside, mostly as regards his anger toward Americans (or maybe just America) following an impoverished youth in Panama. There are some engaging asides about Arcel’s struggles with boxing’s dirty underbelly, but they feel like they belong to a different movie. (De Niro’s superfluous and soporific voiceover, however, belongs in no movie whatsoever.) The boxing itself is notable chiefly for its use of quick cuts and bone-grinding sound effects during the clinches. Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. (2016) — Matthew Lickona

Rated R | 1 hour, 45 minutes
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Doesn't sound anything like "Raging Bull," that's for sure.

Aug. 27, 2016

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