Miles Teller is on the road to redemption. As the electric buzz of Whiplash finally calms, and bleary eyes begin to focus upon Teller the actor, there’s an immediate need for him to step up. Following Fantastic Four, That Awkward Moment, and a bit-part in the Divergent series, Teller had to deliver before he became a dreaded one-hit wonder. Thankfully, he shows his mettle in Ben Younger’s flawed but good-hearted Bleed for This.
The true story of Vinny Pazienza is gold dust for any actor – physical transformation, triumph against adversity, and most importantly, it hangs entirely on the lead. Teller, finally, shows he can carry a film on his shoulders, with an impassioned and determined turn that can (somewhat) distract the audience from the film’s flaws. It goes without saying that behind every great boxer/actor, there’s a great coach/actor. Aaron Eckhart is the unsung hero of the film, adding gravitas, humour and a genuine emotional depth to proceedings. A further shining addition to the actor’s portfolio, showcasing once again why the man should be at the top of Hollywood’s ladder.
While Teller and Eckhart’s adrenaline-fueled presence powers the movie forward with a wonderfully engaging energy, there are flaws aplenty here. For starters, this film and format has been done 100 times over, and far better by others. The far superior Creed combined electric action with emotion, and characters of surprising depth and history – yet in Bleed for This the characters are puddle-deep, with little sophistication; they survive parody through the distraction of the kineticism of the well-shot fights.
Teller breaks his Whiplash curse and delivers on his earlier promise, with more than able support from Eckhart. Beyond that, Bleed for This is a by-the-numbers boxing flick – good action, thin characters, and no lasting imprint.
CAST: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds, Christine Evangelista
DIRECTOR: Ben Younger
WRITER: Ben Younger
SYNOPSIS: The inspirational story of World Champion boxer Vinny Pazienza (Teller) who, after a near fatal car crash, which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks.