‘The Iron Claw’ Review: A Dropkick Straight to the Heart

The Iron Claw Review

Heralded by some as an all-time great sport, denigrated by others who view it as fake theatrics, pro wrestling continues to be a form of entertainment watched by millions. While many focus on the spectacle, the dark side of wrestling is an avenue that certainly deserves to be explored. Written and directed by Sean Durkin, The Iron Claw successfully portrays an emotional tale of a family cursed by fate. Both a celebration and deconstruction of masculinity, this film is a dropkick straight to the heart.

Through hardships and triumph, the Von Erich brothers make their way through the world of wrestling in the 1980s. Zac Efron leads the picture and is joined by Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Lily James and Holt McCallany.

Centred on a famous wrestling family, The Iron Claw takes us on a journey driven by the relationship of four brothers and their father. Holt McCallany is spectacular in his role as Jack Von Erich, a man absorbed by glory and focused on his own self-interests. Another actor may have overacted in the part but McCallany’s subtle expressions go a long way in conveying a complicated individual. Despite this fantastic portrayal, it is Zac Efron that shines above all. Delivering a character with many layers, he has combined physicality with psychology to present a stunning performance.

The story of the Von Erich family is a depressing one indeed. In fact, the script of this picture omits certain tragic elements that would have made the story repetitive in its darkness. Even so, the narrative here is solid and will likely leave many viewers teary-eyed. However, at 132 minutes, the film does drag on a bit too long and the length is felt in the third act especially. The ending is still exceptionally effective, but the minutes prior do cause the movie to tread water a bit.

While The Iron Claw does paint a picture of wrestling at its worst, it also gives us many scenes that celebrate it. The filmmakers and actors have done a wonderful job recreating famous matches. These sequences (alongside others) offer a glimpse into a world of masculinity. Another picture may have presented it wholly negatively but this picture explores both the good and bad of manhood. In one moment, the movie celebrates a family of men playing football together, and in another dissects the viewpoint that “men shouldn’t cry.”

Whether you love wrestling or never understood it, The Iron Claw is a film worth experiencing. Cutting to the core of a tragic true tale, the narrative presented here is heartwrenching and powerful.