‘Bleed for This’ Filled with Decent Performances, Every Cliché

bleed_for_this_posterI guess there really is no way to make a non-cliché boxing film…

“Bleed for This” stars Miles Teller as real-life boxer Vinny Pazienza who after a car accident is left with a broken neck. Despite being told he would never fight again and may not even be able to walk, Pazienza defies the odds and secretly trains for a comeback. Aaron Eckhart and Katey Sagal also star as Ben younger writes and directs.

I love me some Miles Teller. Not to be *that guy* (which means I’m about to be that guy) but I’ve been on his bandwagon since I first saw him in “Project X” and “21 and Over.” I think he’s a great talent so even though the trailer for “Bleed for This” looked generic as anything I still had a modest level of interest in it. Turns out Teller is as “meh, fine” as the movie, because “Bleed for This” is as generic a boxing film as they come, falling somewhere between the greatness of “Creed” and the awfulness of “Grudge Match.”

Like I said above, Teller is fine in the main role. My friend also saw this film and he said he couldn’t take Teller seriously as an Italian American from New England, but my real problem is the entire runtime all I could think was how silly Teller looked with a 1980s porn ‘stache. Teller doesn’t do anything truly remarkable here, and despite his situation he doesn’t convey too many emotions. He brings his normal level of charm and wit to the character, and elevates an otherwise standard underdog role.

Speaking of going above the material, Aaron Eckhart, who plays Teller’s trainer, stands out the most. Despite being the stereotypical over-the-hill coach, Eckhart runs with the role and tries his best to be the emotional weight behind every scene. He has a few lines that either make us chuckle or tickle our hearts (the film never succeeds in making you actually get it in the feels) and is by far the film’s best attribute. They try and throw in a subplot that he has a drinking problem, although at the end of the day it never really affects the plot or how we view the character.

If you hadn’t picked up on it yet, this film is riddled with clichés. From characters to plot points, nothing here is going to surprise you, and every time Younger’s script does try to pull some punches (no pun intended) and throw us for a loop, it comes too late in the runtime to have any true impact. Also, Pazienza’s injury comes so late in his career, at a point where people were telling him to retire before he even got hurt, that it almost makes you view him as stupid for bothering to risk paralyzation at all.

The way the film is shot is a bit puzzling. Half of it looks and feels like it was shot in 1990, with the hue of the lighting or way-too-colorful outfits putting you in that time period. But then there are other scenes, namely the boxing sequences, which definitely look clean and modern and shot on digital. It doesn’t truly hinder the film, it was just curious to me that they got such conflicting visual tones.

“Bleed for This” can best be summed up under the circumstances under which I saw it. My friends wanted to see a movie, it was 10:45 at night and this was the only thing that was left to play at the theater, and there were several other small groups of people there. By this I mean “Bleed for This” is fine enough, if you happen to come across it then you can do worse, but there are better boxing and better comeback stories than this one and there are also better ways to spend a Saturday night.

Critics Rating: 5/10

Open Road Films

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