Movie Review by Brian Adams

“Hands of Stone”

Rated R (for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity)

Much will be said and written about in an attempt to parallel actor Robert De Niro’s involvement in the new film “Hands of Stone,” and that of his Oscar-winning role as fighter Jake LaMotta in 1980’s “Raging Bull.”  In reality, aside from each being categorized as boxing films, there simply are no valid comparisons.

For starters, “Raging Bull” is a classic on just about every level – not the least of which is De Niro’s iconic performance, perhaps only topped by the direction of Martin Scorsese.

In “Hands of Stone,” starring Edgar Ramirez as famed boxer Roberto Duran and De Niro as his trainer, Ray Arcel, writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz brings us a movie filled with formulaic storytelling, a couple of needless sex scenes, and flashbacks that some filmgoers will likely perceive to be nothing more than contrived film devices.

The movie is based on the story of Duran, raised in the slums of Panama during a tumultuous time of American/Panamanian relations, and his eventual rise, and fall, and rise again to become one of the greatest fighters of our time.

Much of the “Hands of Stone” story features Duran’s epic rivalry with fighter Sugar Ray Leonard, a role that inexplicably was cast with singer Usher (credited under the name Usher Raymond IV ), a performance that will be remembered – if at all – for the ability to capture Leonard’s good looks and smooth smile.

Even the screen presence and talents of a legend like De Niro cannot save this film from itself.

Based on the abysmal results of its initial theatrical release, look for “Hands of Stone” to sink like a stone to the bottom of the murky waters of box office.

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