It’s another biopic about another real-life boxer. I could just leave it at that, but I won’t. One thing that I did appreciate about this movie is that it mentions a lot of names that I would not have known had I not seen Hands of Stone beforehand.
Bleed for This is based on a true story (which they’ll happily tell you at the beginning of the film) about Vinny Pazienza, a boxer who gets into a near-fatal car accident and decides to go through an excruciating procedure if it means being able to box again.
This review is going to inevitably compare this movie to Hands of Stone, but honestly, the only positives I have to say about this movie is what it does better than Hands of Stone.
One of the things it did better is choose better actors. Miles Teller is a slightly better actor than who they chose for Roberto Duran, and Aaron Eckhardt as the trainer is only more respectable than Robert De Niro because Eckhardt hasn’t made a huge list of generic and/or sucky movies.
The only person that does a fantastic job in this film is Aaron Eckhardt, but that’s only because his performance and his makeup stand out from any other performance that Eckhardt has done. Everyone in the movie, including him, perform well in their roles, but there is not a single moment where anyone pulls an emotionally compelling performance.
One of the things I appreciated about this movie is that unlike Hands of Stone, Bleed for This is much more focused. They only focus on a couple years of his life instead of a couple of decades. This made the movie a bit more tightened up, but I still felt disconnected from the events happening in front of me.
My best explanation to why I felt disconnected is that I did not relate to Pazienza whatsoever. He’s a determined man who is dedicated to his craft, and that’s admirable and relatable, but aside from that, I couldn’t find anything that I liked about him.
Pazienza is portrayed as a man obsessed with boxing and living a life of excess. The only times he seems happy is when he’s talking about boxing or looking at boobs (and there’s ALOT of boobs in this movie). Then, his whole life radically changes as he gets into an accident that should’ve ended his career, and instead of this forcing him to change his outlook on life, he doubles down and lives as a man obsessed with one thing and one thing only.
Nothing about his life perspective changes in the series of events; he doesn’t have a deeper appreciation for the love that his family has for him, his relationships with women are still shallow and distant, and he finds no deeper meaning or happiness in life. I admire his persistence in following his dreams, but that’s really all that I can find that’s admirable about him.
Everyone else in the movie never changes either. His trainer is still a drunk and failure that’s trying to prop himself up with Pazienza’s success. The only person that does have some sort of character arc is Pazienza’s father, played by Ciarán Hinds, because after reflecting on how his son almost died in a car crash, he eventually decides that the life of his son is more important than riding on his success train.
But the movie seems to vilify this sentiment, as if his father is just giving up on his son’s dreams because it’s easier to quit… but I didn’t take it that way at all.
At least Hands of Stone dealt with themes that forced Roberto Duran to have a deeper outlook on life. Even though I have a bunch of negative things to say about that movie, at least I could appreciate that Duran was changing as a person. Nothing changes with Vinny Pazienza.
Bleed for This is by no means a bad, incompetent movie. The soundtrack was okay, the acting was okay, and the story was fluent enough, but there is nothing of sheer substance or quality that this film has to offer. It doesn’t really have anything to say. I liked the movie, and it’s a more competent film than Hands of Stone, but there is still no reason for this movie to linger in my brain, and there’s no reason for me to dwell on any of these characters. As far as I’m concerned, everything in the movie was just average.