Miles Teller is Electric in this True-Life Sports Drama
Miles Teller puts Bleed For This firmly on his shoulders and delivers two solid hours of entertainment. Teller needed a solid outing after some misses in the last few years with films such as That Awkward Moment, Two Night Stand, and Fantastic Four. While 2016’s War Dogs was passable, that was more on the basis of Jonah Hill’s performance. Bleed For This will remind audiences of Teller’s talents that he firmly displayed in the 2014 Golden Hitchaboo-winning Whiplash.
Teller stars as professional boxer Vinny ‘Paz’ Pazienza – straight out of early 1990s Providence, Rhode Island. The actor looks at home wearing eye-popping outfits and chewing up the scenery with a solid accent and a brazen swagger. Trial By Films doesn’t like to focus too much on an actor’s ‘physical transformation’ for a role as that often is more talked about then the performance itself; but it is worth noting that Teller looks every bit the part of a boxer.
Bleed For This, the most recent film from writer/director Ben Younger (2000’s Boiler Room), is best described as ‘crisp’. Younger uses great camera work and scene-development to make this film as kinetic as the sport it centers on. We are introduced to the ‘Pazmanian Devil’ as he is desperately cutting weight in his hotel room for a fight; his competition already stepping on the scales downstairs. Younger’s use of cuts provides immediate anxiety for the viewer by contrasting the calm, ceremonial boxing weigh-in with the frenzy erupting upstairs until the two scenes eventually come together, exploding in energy.
The smartly assembled cast includes the likes of Katey Sagal as Vinny’s devoutly Catholic mother, Ciaran Hinds playing Pazienza’s overbearing but ultimately loving father, and Ted Levine as slimeball boxing promoter Lou Duva. Aaron Eckhart rises to the top of the ensemble as real-life boxing coach Kevin Rooney. When you see Eckhart as good as he is here, you wonder why we don’t see him more often in worthy films; instead wasting away in London Has Fallen and I, Frankenstein. Eckhart’s Rooney is washed up and being put out to pasture when he is paired with Vinny. Eckhart carries a spectrum of emotions to bring Rooney to life on screen. Struggling with his own obstacles, he finds a job worth caring about in Pazienza.
Teller’s energy, Eckhart’s sincerity, and director Ben Younger’s energized camera cuts come together and deliver with a ‘rah-rah’ sports pep-talk as good as you’ll see; using flashbacks from throughout the film and an impassioned voice over by Eckhart.
- Acting: 9/10 – The entire cast is on-point; led by Teller and Eckhart
- Directing: 8/10 – A quick and smart two hours; a slightly strung-out second act
- Cinematography: Frantic and crisp movement that brings it
- Screenwriting: 8/10 – A solid real-life story that is brought to life by it’s actors
9/10, Stars Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart bring the heat in this electric boxing drama from writer/director Ben Younger