Look, I’m all for a movie with Robert De Niro, I’m even all for a De Niro boxing movie, but… holy crap, I look at this and it looks like a Rocky movie with Paulie as the star.
De Niro needs no introduction. He’s a living acting legend, one of the greatest, moving on. The rest of the cast is what has me concerned. Edgar Ramírez… I’m sure is a fine actor, but the last movie I saw him in was the dreadful POINT BREAK remake and I don’t even remember him in JOY (2015). I don’t know, maybe this is his break-out role. Now Usher. Yeah, the music artist Usher is in this movie. First of all, can the guy act at all? I mean, I know he’s acted before, I’m not asking if he’s been in movies prior to this, but… can he even act? Finally, John Turturro. The very man who kind of ruins the Transformers movies the most for me (you know, beyond their natural badness). He’s been in a lot Adam Sandler movies, at least, before his horrid downfall, but he’s never really done anything of particular worth. Maybe like Ramírez, this is his movie to show off his real talent. But fun fact, Ana de Armas is in this movie, competing against herself in WAR DOGS. That tickles me a bit. And… De Niro’s adopted daughter Drena De Niro is in this film too? She and Ramírez did both appear in JOY together, so even more fun facts.
As for the crew. Writing and directing this picture is Jonathan Jakubowicz, who hasn’t done many big screen movies before, nothing that any common Joe would recognize anyway, so he’s pretty new to the directing scene in my book, so we’ll see how he does. Success or failure, he’s taking the blame. Beyond him, there isn’t anyone else that’d be recognizable.
I’m going in to this with pretty low expectations. I don’t think it’ll be very good outside of De Niro, but you’ll never know. I’ve been impressed before. This is my honest opinion of HANDS OF STONE.
A biopic taking place between 1968 through 1980, following the life of famed Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramírez). Roberto has been trained in boxing since he was a young, poor kid struggling to survive. He didn’t make his mark on the boxing world until he turned sixteen years old, where he was discovered by one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time, Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro). Deciding to come out of “retirement,” he decides to train Roberto to make him the world champion. Though untrusting toward an American at first, Roberto agrees, and through the course of his amazing boxing career has had victory after victory, until he’s met with the newest boxing prodigy, Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond), who may prove to be Roberto’s toughest opponent yet.
I did not like this movie. Let’s just cut right to why: Roberto Durán himself. Now, I won’t lie, I didn’t go in knowing this was a biopic. I’m not sports savvy, so cut me some slack. I have no idea what the real Roberto Durán was like. Having said that, his portrayal in this film is completely unlikable, 100 percent accurate or complete fabrication. I can understand him as a kid. He’s poor and struggles to survive and has to steal in order get by. His hatred for Americans, totally understandable. He’s witnessed them commit horrible acts against his people, and has even been chased by American Marines and shot at by them. Totally on board. But right off the bat, the opening scene ultimately makes zero sense. They’re first introduced and Roberto wants nothing to do with Ray and turns him away. Soon as Ray leaves understanding why, Roberto’s then-coach is all like, “Why did you do that? Don’t you want to be World Champ?” Literally, the next scene featuring Roberto and Ray, they’re training. Well… shit, that took no effort to convince a Hispanic man to train with an American that he distrusts. No transition whatsoever.
It doesn’t end there, either. I didn’t buy into his initial meeting with his future wife, Felicidad. He comes off as a total creeper, seeing the first hot piece of ass and refusing to leave her alone until she agrees to go out with him… AND IT FUCKING WORKS!!! Okay, any woman with half a hint of self-respect would be screaming for help, bitch slapping, or full-on assaulting this mother fucker until he pissed off. But what do I know about women? Maybe stalking a girl really is the easiest way into her heart. Forget flowers, chocolates, and general courtship everyone, borderline harassment is the real panty-dropper!
If he isn’t showing his own wife a lack of respect, by cheating on her, he’s being disrespectful toward another man’s wife. There’s a scene where Roberto confronts Sugar Ray in a restaurant and immediately taunts him. But he doesn’t stop there. After he says things like, “I’m going to fuck you up,” he turns to Sugar Ray’s wife and says, “and then I’m going to fuck you.” Rightfully so, Sugar Ray throws a punch at Roberto. To make matters even worse, Ray catches wind of what Roberto did and tells him that he screwed up. As if it’s the only thing that solves such a shitty act of humanity, Roberto says, “Okay, I’m sorry. I apologize to you, but not to him.” Um… jack-off, it’s not Ray that you royally insulted, it was Sugar Ray and his wife! Acts of pure rudeness that is completely uncalled for, especially coming from a character that we are supposed to empathize with and root for, it completely takes me out of the story and all I want is for him to lose. Every fight that he wins, I’m almost done with the movie. By that one hour mark, I was ready for the credits.
The worst part of everything is that there’s no real consequences for his actions. At least, no consequences that ultimately shape him. I don’t remember Roberto having an epiphany that made him realize, “Yeah, I’m a piece of shit, I need to be better than that,” and working with others and himself to be a better human being. If you want to tell me that his epiphany was that he needs to fight, then I’ll tell you that’s weak. Not once throughout this flick does Roberto ever grow as a person. He never makes up for his actions. “Tell your wife, I’m sorry.” Mother fucker, pull your balls out of your hairy vagina and tell her yourself how sorry you are because she’s probably not thinking too highly of you and a cheap two-word sentence isn’t enough to take back what you said and how you acted.
That’s my rant. But there’s also a few subplots that don’t go anywhere. Roberto’s hatred for Americans doesn’t really play a part in his character. His hatred for everyone is either unbelievably short-lived, or more out of because they seem like “clowns” rather than being Americans. There’s a bit where he… apparently hates his biological American father that he thinks is white, turns out to be American, but of Hispanic heritage… this shit doesn’t really go anywhere. Man, this movie was such a mess.
I really hope that this movie isn’t an accurate portrayal of Roberto Durán’s life. This movie makes him out to be such an asshole that I can’t believe his accomplishments are worth two shits if he really did act this way. I say skip this. There’s better boxing movies out there. Save your money, save your gas, make better use of your time because this one isn’t worth it.
My honest rating for HANDS OF STONE: 2/5
- SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erpUF2ToUls
Upcoming hopeful reviews
- THE HOLLARS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDm-hMnvB44
- A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2Jd6COX9Q0