“Bleed for This” Savannah Film Festival Movie Review
Film was reviewed at the Savannah Film Festival screening.
We see a big Las Vegas meeting room where a press conference is being conducted to do a weigh-in of two boxers. The camera scans the crowd of reporters and participants in the room. Some are bored; some are nervous, and a bunch are just mad. Champ Roger Mayweather and his camp are ready to leave. Lou Duva (Ted Levine) announces that Vinny has gone to the wrong hotel and is on his way. A exacerbated WBC official announces that the weigh-in is going to proceed and that Vinny Paz, the challenger has 15 minutes to get there. Lou calls the hotel room that Vinny is in with his girlfriend, looking bored, answers as what sound like bedsprings makes noise in the background. The camera pans over to see Vinny riding furiously on an exercise bike while a man is wrapping him in saran wrap, all in an effort for Vinny to lose a few extra pounds and make the fighting weight.
Vinny and his entourage hurry through the halls of the casino, the girlfriend almost falling trying to keep up. Vinny enters the press conference room full of confidence and machismo. He steps up on the scale, taking off his bathroom, to reveal a thong, which he then points towards Mayweather’s camp. On the scale, he slowly exhales, and the official makes adjustments to the scale. The official announces that Vinny has made weight, and we see the usual pre-fight theatrics of two fighters trying to psych each other out.
Vinny and his father, who is a large, blustery man named Angelo (Ciaran Hinds) talk about going back to their respective hotel rooms and getting some sleep. We cut to Angelo hamming it big at the crap’s table and Vinny and his girlfriend quickly sneak by to play some blackjack. We find out everything we need to know about Vinny when he doubles down on a $10,000 bet and wins.We cut to Vinny dropping endless money chips onto his girlfriend’s body in bed.
Vinny is fighting Mayweather and getting his butt kicked. No matter what he does, it seems Mayweather is the better-prepared boxer. We cut to Vinny’s parent’s house, where Vinny’s mom (Katey Segal) is sitting in a hallway where there appears to be a religious shrine filled with candles, statues of Jesus and pictures of Vinny. She continually asks about the fight, with the rest of the family in the other room watching it on TV. After losing the fight, Vinny collapses in the ring and is rushed to the hospital. There he is given an IV and told by a doctor that what he is doing to himself with these fights is not normal. The next-day Vinny is over at his parent’s home to eat dinner with the family. As he watches the tape from the fight, he sees his manager, Lou Duva, tell the TV audience that Vinny should hang it up. Vinny is used to being the underdog and is always up for the challenge. He has no way of knowing that he is about to be given the biggest challenge of his life.
Writer/director Ben Younger brings us this tale of a hard-nosed boxer who against the odds and everyone’s advice makes an unbelievable comeback from devastation and heartbreak. In spite of this incredible true story of a man determined to do the impossible, the film never gets behind the facade of Vinny. The movie lacks the big emotional breakthrough that the story and we, the audience deserve. Just because the real-life story is amazing doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a fantastic movie. Younger doesn’t handle the fighting sequences well, using too much “shakey-cam” and quick cuts, making the scenes seem confusing and hard to follow. Even when the final blow is dealt, we never get the big moment with camera placement and pacing. I think the biggest problem this film has is that it is just too formula based. It’s got the manager in Duva, who is in it for the money and not the best interests of his boxer. The mom, who loves her son but can’t watch his fights, even on TV. The controlling father who has groomed his son to be a fighter but can’t willingly give over the reigns of his son’s career to someone else because he can’t admit he might be wrong. And finally, the trainer (played by an almost unrecognizable Aaron Eckhart) who has hit rock bottom and needs to redeem himself and his career with a against the odd’s boxer.
Miles Teller has shown us in the past that he can carry a film but unfortunately, he is let down by the storyline and the dialogue. He’s never given that big, impassioned and moving scene. The emotional tone of the film is flat, and try as hard as he does, Teller rarely provides us with the in-depth look into the makeup of who Vinny really is as a person. What you see on the surface is what you get in this film, and it’s not much.
“Bleed for This” becomes just another ordinary boxing film, which is too bad because its star and it’s true story are far more remarkable than the movie itself. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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