“Hands of Stone” is a Punch to the Face

hands-of-stone-posterHands of Stone is written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz and stars Edgar Ramírez, Robert De Niro, and Usher Raymond. The film is based on the true story of legendary boxer Roberto Duran who teams up with trainer Ray Arcel to become one of the greatest boxers of all-time.

This movie didn’t interest me all that much, but De Niro is a legend, and I think Edgar Ramírez has some potential, so I was hoping this could be an entertaining boxing biopic.

The Good

Robert De Niro is great as Arcel in this movie, giving by far the best performance in the whole film. De Niro is not only believable as a trainer but also the best part of each scene he is in. I thought Usher was also good as Sugar Ray Leonard. He isn’t in the film as much as I would have liked, but Usher is likable and charismatic as Sugar Ray, and I hope this is a sign that other things are to come for the R&B artist.

Edgar Ramírez was decent as the lead in this movie, as he sometimes does go over the top or have some iffy line delivery. For the most part, however, he is good as Roberto Duran, and I think he continues to prove he has some solid acting ability in this movie.

There are scenes in this movie that are excellent, especially early on in the movie, and that’s because Roberto Duran and Ray Arcel both have a story worth telling. These two are legends in their own right, and, at moments, this movie does a good job at showing that.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there is just too much this movie is trying to show, and it feels like a mess. The way this movie just jumps massive, important amounts of time is confusing, and it makes the whole film feel overstuffed and very jumbled.

Let me give some examples of what I mean, so be warned, minor spoilers ahead, but I will try to be broad. So early on Duran and his girlfriend do some inappropriate things, and then the very next shot is his girlfriend giving birth. Another time Duran has to cut a lot of weight for a specific fight. So, the movie decides that one workout scene is good enough because the very next scene is him at the weigh-in making the cut. The whole movie feels so choppy and needs to fit in so many things, that it ends up executing many critical moments pretty poorly.

What I found most surprising was just how much this movie makes me hate the main character. I get it, he had a rough upbringing and Duran is a terrific boxer, but that doesn’t give him the excuse to be an asshole when he’s rice. Duran is portrayed as a complete D for a large portion of this film, and the movie just expects me to root for him regardless. I legitimately found myself wanting Usher to win his fight against Duran, and that is never a good sign for a movie.


Hands of Stone has some good performances, especially from De Niro, and it has a great true story backing it. The problem comes with its execution, as the storyline is all over the place, and it makes its main character look like a villain. The film may be full of ideas, but it could have used less of them because Hands of Stone simply has way too much going on.badge-4

Get tickets and showtimes for Hands of Stone here

What did you think of Hands of Stone? Comment below with what you think.

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