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Bleed For This

Bleed For This

Released 2 December 2016
Director Ben Younger

Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katy Sagal, Ciarán Hinds, Ted Levine
Writer(s) Ben Younger

Bruce Cohen, Noah Kraft, Pamela Thur, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Chad A. Verdi, Ben Younger
Origin United States
Running Time 117 minutes
Genre Biography, drama, sport
Rating 15A

Pulling punches.

As time goes by, it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to muster up any kind of enthusiasm for sports films. Even those that are based on interesting true stories find themselves railroaded into the formula of success, downfall and redemption. Bleed for This (based on one of those interesting true stories) is no exception and despite arranging an impressive cast, it cannot escape the many clichés of the genre.

Miles Teller plays cocky Rhode Island boxer Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza. In the ring, Vinny has a flush of success as he claims two world title belts despite his penchant for gambling through the night before important bouts. When he hooks up with trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) his winning streak continues until a near-fatal car crash leaves him with a broken neck. Surgeons warn Vinny that he may never walk again but following some risky surgery, Vinny begins to train again and heads back to the ring.

I assume for boxing fans, this story will be a familiar one but even for those who have never looked at a boxing ring outside of a movie screen (me, for example), surprises will be few and far between. In general, the quality of the film is outweighed by the quality of its cast. I can see why Teller would be drawn to this script but the role is not a comfortable fit for the actor – he is too young and fresh to fit into such a tired formula. Similarly, Eckhart does a good job but at times seems to be cruising on auto-pilot.

Bleed For This is an example of a film whose technical competency cannot outweigh a certain tired shabbiness. The fight scenes have convincing squelch and crunch, the cast are all masters of their craft but the overall product is decidedly unremarkable.

- Linda O’Brien