This true story is narrated by Ray Arcel (Robert Ne Niro), Boxing trainer legend. After a run in with the Mafia, Arcel vows to make some money off of boxing, or else he will be killed. Fast forward twenty years and he crosses paths with Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), a young, cocky fighter who fought his whole life to provide for his family. Even though Duran has a grudge against Americans, he agrees to be trained for free by Arcel with one goal: The World Championship. However, two things stand in Duran's way; "Sugar" Ray Leonard (Usher), the all American boxing poster boy, and Duran's intense temper and over-confidence.
It's a very normal day when you get to say Robert De Niro delivered a wonderful performance, so it shouldn't shock anyone that Robert De Niro delivered a wonderful performance in Hands of Stone. Obviously, he's the stand out among the cast and just may be the sole reason for checking this film out. Edgar Ramirez was also very good, but I, from time to time, got annoyed by his character and felt he was hard to root for. I understand that's who Roberto Duran was and they do attempt a character arc, but it's the other characters that truly ground this film and give it it's emotional pull, especially Usher's character, "Sugar" Ray Leonard. Usher joins the list of wonderful rappers turned wonderful actors. He's just naturally likeable and even though via the context of the story he's the antagonist, I was sort of rooting for him. Also, special shout out to Ama De Armas, who portrays Duran's wife. She's essentially the same exact character as the one she portrayed in War Dogs, but she's good here as well. And she's the most beautiful woman on the planet and I was very happy during her love scene.
Overall, Hands of Stone finishes with a few bloody bruises and maybe a broken nose, but the performances and the intriguing true story allow it to finish on its feet. It's not great, and we have gotten much better boxing films, but for a late August bio-pic, you could do worse. If you're bored on a rainy day, I suggest giving this movie a shot.