Roberto Durán was one of those boxers whose fame is hard to separate from his infamy. The proud Panamanian brawler rose from poverty to become a national hero when he beat Sugar Ray Leonard in the summer of 1980 — and then saw his reputation sullied and dragged through the mud just five months later when he stopped their rematch mid-fight, allegedly saying, “No más!” Jonathan Jakubowicz’s new Durán biopic has some nice performances and captures the complexity of the man with “hands of stone.” But it also falls victim to too many trite boxing-movie clichés and is in way too much of a rush to cover too much narrative ground. It sometimes feels like you’re watching it with a finger on the fast-forward button.
As Durán, Edgar Ramirez conveys the ring legend’s inner demons (the humiliations of American colonialism in his home country, overnight wealth, a fraught relationship with his estranged GI father). And Usher Raymond, with his thousand-watt smile and boundless charisma, is well cast as Leonard. But it’s Robert De Niro, as Durán’s fiery paternal trainer, who commands the screen — and your sympathy. Aged with a shaved-back hairline that exposes his jug ears and with his chin pulled in like a tortoise, the actor elevates the movie above its predictable, one-dimensional script. It’s just too bad that watching him, you feel like you’re rooting for the wrong character. C+