We all know Nick Newell. He’s made waves in the MMA social media-verse as one of the most inspirational fighters ever. Newell was born with congenital amputation and made his career as a professional prize fighter. Inspiring many, it’s no surprise a movie has been made of Newell’s life. Notorious Nick is a movie that paid close attention to his life, the sport he loves, and respected the two’s symbiotic relationship.
What makes Notorious Nick such an interesting story is the time they spent on Newell’s losses. Not just in wrestling or MMA, but in life as well. Nick Newell wasn’t given an easy path, but with his grit and determination, he made it through. Loss is a giant theme in Newell’s life and the movie depicts it well.
Cody Christian, who plays Newell in the movie, nails many aspects of Nick Newell including the fighter’s infectious personality. Newell also has a unique fighting stance due to his arm and Christian stands just like Newell and nailing how he fights in the cage.
The writers of the movie are either MMA fans or did their due diligence into the sport. The vernacular, fight scenes, and grappling practice were very accurate by Hollywood’s standard. While there were some over the top moments in the fights, Hollywood gets their chance to make the movie better and more dramatic.
Newell’s career was also paid attention to in the movie. Wins were accurate with the movie mirroring what Newell did in real life. Fighter’s last names were mentioned that are actually on Nick Newell’s resume. The climax saw Newell fight a “Rich Reynolds” who nailed the look of “Eric Reynolds.” His name was changed likely due to imaging copyright law.
Notorious Nick: Honest Criticism
Notorious Nick wasn’t perfect. Nothing is in life. Right off the bat I questioned how good the movie was going to be. Being an MMA fan, when things don’t add up and aren’t realistic when they are trying to be, I get turned off. The first fight was just that. Newell was spinning around after getting hit, throws were unrealistic and the fight was underwhelming.
His high school wrestling was a bit of a whirlwind too. Not much detail was given in the wrestling section of the movie despite it being a huge part of why Newell fights. That said, the movie concentrates more on the MMA aspect and with me being a wrestling fan, I could be being nitpicky here.
Notorious Nick: The Good
The MMA section of the movie paid a lot of attention to detail to Newell’s career. The actor, Cody Christian, really gets the nuances of Newell’s fighting style. The vernacular in the movie was also very accurate. You could tell that the writers either did their research into mixed martial arts or Newell had a lot of input on the writing of the movie.
The fighters in the movie were also accurately mentioned. The exception is when the main event fight with Rich Reynolds. As mentioned earlier, the real name of the fighter was Eric Reynolds albeit, they kept his “It’s a Wrap” nickname. In the fighting montages of Notorious Nick also were accurate. When Newell fought and won by guillotine, he won by guillotine in the movie. When it was a knockout, it was a knockout in the movie. The movie did a really good job of paying attention to the career of Nick Newell and honoring it.
One more good thing about the movie was how they handled the death of Newell’s childhood friend, Abi. It was obviously a big part of Newell’s life and is truly the driving force of Notorious Nick. The movie handles the death with emotion and truly rips your heart out.
Notorious Nick: The Bad
Notorious Nick is a film that doesn’t have much that’s truly bad about it. The climax of the movie was dramatized and extended longer than the fight in real life. While that’s expected, it’s still something I wish they could have really done accurate.
Reynolds was also announced to be undefeated at 16-0 when in reality he was 16-5. This was another Hollywoodization of the movie and while it makes it more dramatic, with both Reynolds and Newell being undefeated, it doesn’t reflect the facts.
Final Verdict: 7/10
Notorious Nick is a fun movie and anyone who is a fan of Newell or has followed his career can really appreciate how well the movie handled the career of Nick Newell. The movie is almost a true to life expression of Newell’s life to a tee. While I’m not a personal fan of the Holywooding of the movie’s smaller details, it does make the movie more dramatic.