I was a little nervous to write this review. My first two posts for FlixChatter (Ouija and The Eyes Of My Mother) were for horror movies-a genre I enjoy and feel comfortable writing about- so being assigned a movie outside of my wheelhouse was a little daunting, especially considering this one is a boxing movie. I am not remotely a sports person. When I voiced my concerns to my sister, she pointed out that regardless of the subject, a good movie should make me empathize with the main character. I should be able to relate to their struggle and their eagerness to achieve their goals. Was I able to do that in Bleed for This? No. Not really. And for a movie like this, that is really a problem.
Bleed for This tells the true story of Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), a world champion boxer who suffers a near-fatal car crash, breaking his neck and being told he may never walk again, let alone fight. Despite this major injury, concern from his parents (Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds), and lack of support from his manager (Ted Levine), he works relentlessly to not only heal, but return to his former strength and fight again.
A story like this should be tense and emotional, but it was surprisingly underwhelming. This mostly has to do with poor pacing. A substantial amount of the first half of the movie was dedicated to introducing Vinny and establishing his identity as a boxer, but the events following his car crash-specifically, his journey to recovery- were rushed, showing very little of his physical challenges or his emotional turmoil over potentially never boxing again. We see him struggle to lift a barbell in his parents’ basement which created a moment of suspense (would he be able to even move it? Would he injure himself further?), but the subsequent training montage with trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) is brief and shows virtually no extreme effort, so when he finally enters the ring again, it doesn’t feel like as enormous of an achievement as it should.
Vinny’s feelings about his boxing career possibly ending could have been addressed better as well. Before the accident, his manager suggests he consider retiring, infuriating Vinny; he can’t imagine ever not being a boxer, but when he’s presented with that very real possibility after the car crash, we don’t really see him explore his feelings about it, which seems strange after making such a big deal about his commitment to boxing in the first act.
That’s not to say the movie didn’t have its good points. It had a strong cast, and the chemistry between Teller and Eckhart was especially impressive. There were a few moments of genuine tension toward the end of the film- but not enough to save it from being boring overall.
I’m sure the real Vinny Pazienza’s recovery was incredibly difficult. I’m sure the training was exhausting and painful and required unbelievable self-discipline, and the idea that he might not reach his goal was probably terrifying. But if none of that is conveyed, what’s the point of making a movie about it at all?
Laura Schaubschlager is a Winona State University graduate with a B.A. in English, which is seldom put to use in my health insurance career (outside of cringing at the grammatical errors my superiors make in their emails). I’m an avid horror fan (movies, novels, video games- anything that makes me hesitate when I go to turn off the light at night), and I’m always looking for writing opportunities, although my current portfolio is made up of partially-completed short stories and an occasionally-updated blog: schaublahblah.wordpress.com.
Have you seen ‘Bleed For This’? Well, what did you think?