Bleed for This movie full length review - Bleed For This doesn't do justice for Pazienza
Born in 1962, professional boxer Vinny Pazienza began his career as a fighter with a bout in 1983. He won his first title in 1987 when he defeated Greg Haugen to become the world lightweight champion.
Haugen would reclaim the title in their first rematch, but Pazienza would ultimately triumph in 1990. In 1991, after his fight with Gilbert Dele for the junior middleweight championship, Pazienza was in a near fatal car crash that broke his neck and left doctors doubting if Vinny would ever even walk again. With a screwed in halo brace holding his neck in place, Pazienza was confined to a hospital bed for 3 months. Against doctors' orders and without them aware, Vinny snuck into his basement at home, halo brace and all, to regain his strength for a fight he knew he'd someday get. It was just over a year after the accident that Pazienza was back in the ring for the next unbelievable stage of his career that finally ended in 2004 after 50 wins in the ring.
Bleed For This stars Miles Teller as boxer Vinny Pazienza and is not exactly what you would call a who's who cast of all-stars. Teller has been an up-and-coming rising star that many would argue shone brightest in 2014's Ocscar nominated film Whiplash in which he plays a talented jazz drummer. While Teller himself was not nominated for his role, many recognized his work calling it a breakthrough performance. Teller stars in Bleed For This with Christine Evangelista, Ciaran Hinds, Katey Sagal and Aaron Eckhart who plays Pazienza's trainer Kevin Rooney. However, a movie boasting a slew of Hollywood's A-listers doesn't guarantee a blockbuster, just like the lack thereof doesn't mean anything either.
Vinny is a charismatic, entertaining, playboy, work-hard, party-hard showboating champion boxer in Vinny Pazienza. Make no mistake, he is extremely gifted at what he does and trains hard to be that way, but his antics, gambling and extracurricular activities are fully reaped as rewards for his efforts. And then the accident happens. While his doctor tells him, he may never walk again and his friends and family try to convince him that there's more to life than boxing, Vinny is more determined than ever to get back in the ring and fight again. Bleed For This is based on the true life of Vinny Pazienza and, like the most recent fact-based films I've reviewed, I've chosen to do no research ahead of time as this is not a documentary, this is a Hollywood film. And, I'm a sucker for the underdog movies. Rocky was an underdog in every one of his fights. Southpaw, Eddie the Eagle, Rudy, Invincible, and John Cusack romantic comedy, I'm always a fan of the underestimated, mocked, counted out, never had a chance underdog rising to the challenge. So, I gave Bleed For This a 4.0 Star prediction. After seeing it though, I have to change my mind.
Vinny's life story is definitely worth telling, but Bleed For This was not well-executed. The one word I can describe for most of the film is annoying. The sound effects, or lack thereof at times, didn't heighten or compliment what was going on, though sounds and silence have been masterfully utilized in other such films. The mood and pacing of the music selection didn't match the scenes they scored. There were times that actual footage of the real Vinny were used making it obvious that actor Miles Teller wasn't Vinny. Some of the dialogue seemed rehearsed and scripted (a la Rocky or Million Dollar Baby or Southpaw) while some seemed poorly improvised (a la The Fighter, though not done nearly as well). And the inconsistency of shifting between hand-held shaky camera shots and a steady one made no sense and, again, grew annoying. The saving graces of this movie were the performances of Teller and Eckhart, both of whom I can see being nominated for their roles. But it wasn't enough to redeem Bleed For This and I'm dropping my rating to 2.5 stars, barely worth paying full price in the theatre, but a decent rental that will not find a permanent home in my collection.