Director: Ben Younger
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart & Ciaran Hinds
Synopsis: The inspirational story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza who, after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sports most incredible comebacks.
Rating: 15 Duration: 117 minutes Release date: 27 March (UK)

Most boxing films follow a familiar format with the rise-fall-and rise again of their main protagonist. Ever since Rocky, the boxing film has followed this routine pretty strictly and Bleed for This is no different. Therefore the film has to have something else, and despite being an insufferable dick most of the time Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is an enjoyable character whose motor mouth and live for now lifestyle make for appealing qualities.

If, like me, you know little about the real life Vinny Pazienza then Bleed for This lays his story out pretty quickly for you. The film makes no bones about what happened to Paz, so unless you want to go in cold then you will have worked his story out from seeing the trailer. After losing his last match he enlists the help of a new trainer, who not only bumps him up two weights but also leads Paz to a world title. This brings about a new love affair with the press and the local community and Paz seems to be riding the crest of a wave. Then, in true dramatic style, he is involved in a car crash which breaks his neck and threatens to paralyse him. His doctor thinks he will be lucky if he is able to walk again, but being a man of considerable character, Paz vows not just to walk, but to fight again.

Predictably, if you’ve seen any boxing film before, then you know how Bleed for This will end. Yes, it’s a true story, which makes events even more considerable, but to the films detriment it is all rather easy to guess what happens next. What also grates is the fact that Vinny Pazienza is a bit of a tool. He doesn’t possess the dimwitted charm of Rocky Balboa and is nowhere near as instantly likeable. His quick mouth and ability to rile opponents is felt by the audience at times and he becomes a hard person to agree with or want to see succeed.

It is fortunate then that Miles Teller has been cast in the lead role. Arguably he may share some of his characters less endearing traits, but Teller is becoming a very likeable actor. Recent efforts such as Whiplash and War Dogs have seen a sympathy under his gruff exterior. His Pazienza is quick-witted and boisterous, but it’s done so in a way that Teller makes appealing. He becomes funny and through Teller’s performance we begin to find a sympathy with the character. This is also helped by Aaron Eckhart as Kevin Rooney, who becomes Paz’s new trainer and the two form an unlikely bond as the film progresses. Their, almost, bro-mance carries the film through it’s darker moments and help to alleviate the film when it threatens to become tiresome.

Director Ben Younger (Boiler Room) fills the film with incidental moments and encourages his actors to fill their roles with trinkets of character defining moments; meeting Rooney for the first time we are soon on board with his sarcastic tone, or Paz’s brother-in-law’s obsession with porcelain elephants or the sight of his mother (Katey Sagal) refusing to watch any of his fights. These moments come and go, but add layers to the film and encourage you to get involved with these characters.

Bleed for This is an enjoyable film. But it doesn’t have the classic feel of Rocky or Raging Bull, and despite being a true story it feels too predictable to be truly endearing.

Extras:

  • Inspired by a Legend featurette
  • An Authentic World featurette
  • Trailer
  • Deleted scenes

Film: 3/5
Extras: 3/5

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