Before seeing this movie, I had a fairly low impression of it. It looked like it’d be about this hotshot boxer who is completely unlikable, gets into a car accident, can’t fight, builds determination, and eventually makes a comeback. Dime a dozen if you ask me.
But let’s talk about the only positives that had me interested. Miles Teller is always a reliable talent. In retrospect, he wasn’t that bad in FANT4STIC (2015). You can’t work with a shitty script, no matter how talented you are. But with the widely acclaimed WHIPLASH under his belt, he’ll definitely be seen as a star on its way to shine brightly. Supporting, we have my personal favorite cast member: Aaron Eckhart. If this man is in a movie, just link my bank account to my go-to cinemas and auto-purchase my ticket. He is so awesome and – dare I say as a flaming heterosexual man? – good looking guy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that I didn’t like with him in it. No, I, FRANKENSTEIN (2014) wasn’t great, but it was still a fun piece of bad. But he’s also got THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) under his belt and the ever popular THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005). The man is criminally underrated, but he’s one of the greats in my book.
Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Ben Younger. Not a lot of feature length films under his belt, but he has done such titles as PRIME (2005) and BOILER ROOM (2000). Composing the music is Julia Holter, a relative newcomer with only one feature-length unknown film to her credit: OWN WORST ENEMY (2012). Finally, the cinematographer is Larkin Seiple, known for SWISS ARMY MAN (2016), COP CAR (2015), and a slew of short films.
Overall, I had some “meh” expectations going in to this. Looks cliché, not very interesting, but lets see how it held up. This is my honest opinion of BLEED FOR THIS.
Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is a popular boxer and he loves to show off. After losing one title fight, he gets an opportunity to fight for another, but in two weight classes higher than his own. With the help of his new coach Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), he achieves this goal. After celebrating, he heads out with a friend but gets into a horrific car accident. Though both survive, Vinny is told that he suffered injuries that may not allow him to walk again, let alone box again. Unable to accept this defeat, he works on healing and, in secret, trains.
This film was a lot better than I thought it’d be. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s still worth it.
Alright, the best thing about this movie that stands out to me is Teller’s portrayal of Vinny. By comparison to so many other boxing movies out there, Vinny is very mellow and regular character. Others tend to be larger than life, alcoholics, playboys, or combinations of. Vinny however doesn’t do drugs, or drink heavily, and isn’t some screw up. He’s a normal guy, and that is unbelievably refreshing to me. Which… makes his intro scene fairly out of place. He shows up at a weigh-in in a thong, prancing about, showing off, but he doesn’t act this obnoxiously throught the rest of the film. In fact, it’s pretty heartbreaking. When he gets into his accident, and he’s in his halo, every little tap that causes him pain, I found myself cringing too. I’m grappling onto my arm-rest for dear life, trying to brace for the next ouchie. I never got used to it. It’s painful, but in an engaging way. Although, I do hate it when athletes can’t take in a situation and accept it for what it is. I’m not saying that Vinny needed to give up, but verbally going, “No, I feel fine! I’m gonna fight again!” That’s a cliché I never enjoyed. Even if that’s what really happened, can’t an athlete quietly contemplate their next move? Wouldn’t that open for a more subtle performance? But overall, his story is compelling and Teller does a wonderful job.
Eckhart’s his usual awesome self, if not a slightly cliché character. Starts off drunk and barely interested in working with the central character, but the two characters end up becoming really good friends, yeah, it’s that song and dance. Thankfully, they don’t dwell on this for too long and it’s only in the beginning. And I miss Eckhart’s hair… that amount of baldness is not natural dude. It’s like a clean-shaven Tim McGraw, you can’t expect me to get used to that. I jest, of course, this isn’t a negative toward the film, but… gah, I need you to have hair! Your hair is what makes you sexy! No, not your kindness, not your success, not your hard work, not your talent, it’s that beautiful light brown (dark blond?) hair on your head, sir!
Honestly, though that’s the best way to see this movie. It’s nothing particularly incredible and seems to hit the notes of a standard boxing movie, but if you’re going to make a basic story, you might as well do it well, and that’s exactly what they did here. Not stand-out, but good. If you’re looking for a new and ground-breaking boxing movie, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you just casually want to see one that doesn’t suck, this is definitely worth your time then.
My honest rating for BLEED FOR THIS: 4/5