Review: The Iron Claw

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Title: The Iron Claw
MPA Rating: R
Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson
Runtime: 2 hr 12 mins

What It Is: In northeast Texas wrestling runs through the Von Erichs. With their Dallas based World Class Championship Wrestling (and it’s venue the Dallas Sportatorium) they are the destination for graps from around the world. At the center is patriarch Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany) who’s platooned his sons Kevin (Efron), David (Dickinson) and eventually Kerry (White) to but on some boots and go toe to toe with some of the squared circles finest. But this is a family that plagued by all manner of tragedy and this is something that inevitably only got worse. The Von Erich curse (if one believes in all that) as it is known would rear its ugly head throughout the storied careers of the brothers.

What We Think: Let’s start with the easy one. There were 5 Von Erich brothers. Kevin, David, Kerry, Chris and Michael. For the sake of time, it seems, Sean Durkin cut an entire brother out of the equation. I get not wanting to pile on the audience but anyone who knows this stories knows the unbridled sadness that is the Von Erich dynasty. The tragedy and trauma experienced by all the brothers. This humble critic has been a professional wrestling fan since he could walk. That’s why I’m hot about some of the things Durkin does here. Let’s start with the casting. Efron, White and Dickinson are PHENOMENAL. For his part Stanley Simons is also good. The Von Erich sons aren’t where the performances sour. Aaron Dean Eisenberg what in the hell man! You are playing a living legend. One of wrestling most charismatic performers. The Stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun! One Mr. Ric Flair. Flair was the thing you lacked in spades. Kevin Anton as King Harley Race…nothing. It was never Race’s physique that won him so many World Titles. This says nothing to the uneven tone, uneven pacing and overall lethargic direction. Durkin writes a beautiful film that comes off more “inpsired” by true events then resembling the ACTUAL circumstances surrounding the untimely deaths of these young men. Where the film shines is in the relationship between the brothers. They are all that each other has.

Our Grade: B-, This is such a highly disappointing film. This isn’t a bad film. Far from it it’s a very good film. But the things surrounding it. The lack of care taken to such a delicate story. The dismissal of the details and a complete lack of care for some very important casting decisions hurts this film more than anything. It’s almost as if  Durkin, who’s stated he was a wrestling fan in his youth chose convenience over the truth. What it leads to is a film that I thought could’ve easily been in my Top Ten of 2023 but will instead settle with just getting a very good review and one GIGANTIC shaking of the head from me. Dammit A24. You had one job.

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