Bleed For This

A fairly routine boxing movie, starring Miles Teller as Vinny Pazienza, whose career in real life as a welterweight was sadly halted by a bad car accident in which he suffered critical, life-threatening injuries. He was told afterwards by doctors that he may never walk again, let alone box, and Ben Younger’s film details Vinny’s struggle as he seeks to prove them wrong, helped mainly by trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), a struggling alcoholic who was once Mike Tyson’s coach. There are reasons to recommend it, especially if you like boxing films: Teller is convincing in and out of the ring and there’s some snappy dialogue around the dinner table involving his Italian-American family, for example, while ultimately, however jaded you may be, it is an inspiring story. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that the film will have many viewers rolling their eyes at the sheer number of cliches. The success-to-rock-bottom-to-success path has been walked way too many times – particularly within the boxing movie sub-genre – for it to be as effective as it should be, you feel like you’ve already spent hours or your life already in tough, backstreet gyms (where trainers give the ‘you gotta forget everything, forget what you know’ spiel), and there are enough ‘I coulda been a contender’ or ‘ya gotta hook me up with a fight’ lines to fill a dozen Rockys. Bleed For This never quite distinguishes itself from the large number of films that deal with similar subject matter, and you can’t help but think about the ones that have done it better, and did it earlier. (**½)