Plot: Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is a young sailor with solid potential, but he has a temper than often lands him in trouble. He has a quick trigger and whenever he flies off the handle, he resorts to physical violence. After repeated instances of this pattern, Fisher is sent to the base psychiatrist to try to find some answers. But when he steps into the office of Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington), Fisher refuses to speak and simply sits in silence. Davenport informs him that regulations require three sessions before he can be released, so if he ever wants to leave, he’d better start to talk. But instead, the silence continues, even though the first session can’t begin until Fisher decides to speaks. So days pass and Davenport does his paperwork, until he finally gets a response from the young sailor. The conversation starts off with a question about fighting, but soon enough, Fisher opens up about his past. As time passes, he reveals a series of dark, unpleasant events that have entered his life, from the loss of his parents to multiple incidents of abuse. He found harm by the hand of almost all those he has encountered and by turn, his temper has turned brash and violent. But can Antwone find some kind of peace within himself, so he can create a new, better life for himself?
Entertainment Value: This one was based on a true story and the production has some interesting threads as well, as the real Antwone Fisher worked on the Fox lot as a security guard at the time he sold the script. I’m not familiar enough with the actual events to gauge the accuracy of the adaptation, but some dramatic license is always taken in these biopics, it seems. This movie has some real power and genuine emotion, but it runs on the slow side and that lessens some of the impact. This wouldn’t be an issue, but the movie isn’t efficient about the narrative, so the slow segments do little aside from provide filler moments. At about the halfway point, the focus narrows and th story picks up steam, so the last hour is much more engaging and kinetic. I still wish the slow stretches are better used, to develop characters and build atmosphere, as I just think a little faster movement could have helped audiences a shade. Even so, since this is a true story, there’s added meaning and impact, as someone actually experienced all this turmoil in their life. The sense of realism gives Antwone Fisher a unique edge, but the performances are what drives this motion picture. I can’t give this one high praise, but fans of true life dramas should find it worth a look.
As we all know, Denzel Washington is a skilled performer with immense range, but with Antwone Fisher, he puts in work on both sides of the camera. His inexperience as a director is likely to blame for the movie’s uneven pace and shaky exposition runs, but he is able to right the ship in the second half. I found his direction to be solid, but nothing remarkable or memorable. Washington also plays a prominent role in front of the camera in this one however, a contribution that is much more effective to the film’s end result. His presence is strong as always and he really shines when he shares the screen with Derek Luke, who made his feature film debut here. He benefits greatly from Denzel being in the scenes with him, as he rises to the challenge in those moments, while his other scenes are less effective. But both turn in good performances and for his debut, this is impressive work from Luke. The cast here also includes Joy Bryant, Kente Scott, Kevin Connolly, and Viola Davis.