Million Dollar Baby
Golden Globe winner for his direction of this dark drama, Clint Eastwood plays boxing trainer Frankie Dunn. Along with Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), one of the first boxers that Frankie trained, he runs a gym for up-and-coming boxers. Frankie reluctantly takes on the training of female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). He believes that girls don’t belong in the ring but sees that she’s determined to be a boxer and willing to learn from him — no questions asked. Frankie takes personal blame for many things: not being present in the lives of his wife and daughter, causing a career-ending injury to Eddie, losing a potential title-winning boxer to another manager because he was too cautious. Now with Maggie in the ring and in his corner, a sweet bond between the two helps them overcome some overwhelming difficulties. Win or lose, Maggie becomes Frankie’s million-dollar baby.
One of the most difficult things about reviewing films is giving an account of the movie without spoiling the film for others (i.e., giving away a surprise ending). Unfortunately, I will have to cross that line if I am going to truly inform you about the most objectionable thing in the film. You see, Clint Eastwood has masterfully duped the audience into thinking that “Million Dollar Baby” is a film about boxing and commitment. In fact, the first three-fourths of the movie develops in such a way that you can’t help feeling compassion for the main characters. The sucker punch, however, comes in the last 30 minutes of the movie. You see, the “main event” is about Euthanasia, not boxing.
However you may feel about the subject, Eastwood delivers his views uncompromisingly in favor of the position that there are circumstances where killing another human being is permissible. I felt cheated but now I understand why Hollywood has been so exuberant about the film. Only when they can challenge the morals of others can Hollywood celebrate so enthusiastically.
Eastwood, Freeman, and Swank give stellar performances. The boxing portion of the story is told in a way that keeps you involved emotionally. But the ending and overall message of the film is to persuade the audience to believe that once you are a quadriplegic you are of no use to anyone anymore. I wonder what Christopher Reeve would think if he were still with us.