The Fight is a film of great baseline competence and only scant insight. As a document of four emblematic battles brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Trump administration—respectively concerning abortion rights, census data, transgender military admittance, and the famous “children in cages” immigration disgrace—it is confidently illustrative. As a film that wants to advance an argument, it is quite empty.

Continuing the remarkable skill for identifying and presenting character that they demonstrated on the far thornier—therefore more interesting—Weiner, directors Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg flagrantly structure their narrative for maximised emotional power but thankfully bolster this with mostly well-handled lurches into humanist comedy. Laughs are drawn not from easy pot-shots at cartoon scapegoats (thankfully absent here, in favour of focusing on the actual crises and their human costs) but from our protagonists: heroic but approachable civil rights lawyers. And ultimately, it’s the filmmakers’ easy talent for observation and personality that leads to some truly powerful moments: immigration expert Lee Gelernt waiting to go on TV, for instance, or voting rights guy Dale Ho studying a ruling.

Otherwise, the film is marred by a reliance on dishonest and patronising formal techniques: all four cases, for instance, are contrived to occur at the same climactic moment. The Fight—pointedly titled in the singular—proceeds from an assumption of audience agreement, which would be fine if it then dared to go deeper and demonstrate something novel and unfamiliar. In many ways, it remains cheerfully at the level of a Daily Show monologue.

The Fight is a work of rhetorical blandness constructed in a modish style stuck between editorial slickness and raw observation. Despite its frequent slides into insulting disingenuousness, however, the film’s sheer strength of character keeps it truly engaging, as it describes an important roadmap to a far better world. 



CAST: Brigitte Amiri, Joshua Block, Lee Gelernt, Dale Ho, Chase Strangio

DIRECTORS: Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

SYNOPSIS: An inside look at the legal battles that lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union are facing during the Trump administration.