MOVIE REVIEW: Bleed For This

The true story of boxer Vinny Pazienza, who after winning his second championship belt was involved in a car wreck where his spine was nearly snapped in half.  With the Doctors telling him that the chances were he would never walk again, Vinny held the belief that he would not just walk again, but he would step back into the ring and fight.

Boxing movies for me are all about the determination and winning against the odds, with Creed this year being one of the better of the more recent films.  I love to watch real boxing matches too because no matter how sure the commentators are, no matter what trash is talked outside the ring, it all comes down to 12 rounds.  When boxing films are based on true stories we get to, for the most part, see the true ugliness of the industry, the true pain of the fighters, and their families fighting each round with them before, during, and after the fights.

My biggest problem with Bleed for this is that we didn’t get the big emotional impact of any of those.  The film is fine, entertaining and inspiring, but there is just something missing and I can’t for the life of me put my finger on it.  Miles Teller plays Vinny who is living for the thrill of the fight, a true boxer in every sense, the performance is simple and understated, but I just don’t like Teller.  He seems to have a face that you just want to punch, so in this film he’s fine.  The rest of the cast, which is impressive all perform well.  We have Aaron Eckhart as the balding, overweight, and alcoholic trainer that is the only one that really sees Vinny’s potential for a higher weight class.  Eckhart is either fantastic or just dull as dishwater and here he’s fantastic but there isn’t enough of his character to be as memorable as he should have been.  Ciaran Hinds plays Vinny’s Dad and the future Justice League villain shows why he’s one of the most underused talents in the acting business, wanting his son to be the best in the world while worried that he’s pushing the young man into killing himself.

The film is set in the 80’s and early 90’s and the costume department plays a blinder as does the location section of the film.  What we get is a realistic feel to the film that brings you back to the best decade of the last century.

I don’t know if the script just failed or the director failed to show us, but the fight back from the injury should have been the most heartbreaking and jaw dropping moment of the whole movie, but something just falls flat.  Vinny comes across as a character that is hard to feel good for him.  The determination that he showed us in real life should have won us over, but he’s a little bit unlikable.  Also the creepy fight promoters that he was signed to should have been exploited more as we all know, at least those of us who know about fight promoters, how sleazy and two-faced they are.

Does Bleed for this rate in the best boxing movies of all time?  No.  Is Bleed for this the worst boxing movie ever made?  No.  It’s just a middle of the road boxing movie that hits on a more inspirational level rather than entertainment.  The lack of a soul in this film just lost me.  If you are a fan of boxing or Vinny himself, or even think there is something in your life that you cannot achieve then you should watch this film.  If you think that you are going to get the same level of entertainment that you got in Creed or any of the Rocky movies then you’re going to be disappointed.  I for one would not pay into the cinema to watch this but if it were on TV or a friend bought the DVD/BluRay then I would happily watch it again.

Director: Ben Younger
Writers: Ben Younger, Angelo Pizzo, Pippa Bianco
Stars: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal

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