Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) came from humble beginnings. Growing up in the slums of the El Chorrillo section of Panama City during a tumultuous time in the country’s history; Duran learned to fight at an early age. Undisciplined, but with a surprising amount of raw talent, Duran made his professional début at the age of 16 in 1968. Outside of Panama, Duran is more infamous for his 1980 forfeit of the WBC Welterweight Title during his rematch with former Welterweight champion, Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond IV). Hands of Stone chronicles Duran’s life and times up to the infamous title fight. Similarly to ‘Race’, the Jesse Owens biopic from earlier in the year; Hands of Stone covers the major points of Duran’s life up until his infamous rematch with Leonard. Also like ‘Race’, the film lingers a bit too long on building up to the defining moment of interest. Marketed as a biopic on Duran, Hands of Stone fails to encapsulate Duran’s storied career. His 30 win streak to start his career or his 71-1 record before the first bout with Leonard seem like afterthoughts and his post Leonard career gets a few lines of text before the end credits. The ever-changing political climate of Panama as well as Duran’s growth of his family are treated as important footnotes, yet largely ignored.
Edgar Ramirez does a fantastic job as Duran, walking the fine line between arrogance and confidence. However, the film isn’t invested in the other facets of Duran’s life, that could shed more light on his character. Though he achieved legendary status in his native Panama, Duran seemed largely unlikable; making his rags to riches story a bit harder to enjoy.
Rated: R @ 105 mins