If there is something new to be said about boxing in a movie, Bleed for This does not find it. This is a mystery: The true story of champion fighter Vinny Pazienza should be effortlessly inspiring. After a car crash in which he broke his neck, Pazienza was told he may never walk again, never mind box—and still he recovered, got back in the ring and won more titles. Yet this is a movie in which its hero—played by Miles Teller, as unlikeable as ever—spends half the running time in one of those alien-looking medical halos to keep his head immobile (so his spine can heal), and still it feels like we’ve seen this all before. Every beat is old hat, and none has any emotion or energy. At worst, it squanders the talents of Aaron Eckhart as Vinnie’s coach and Katey Segal as his mother (and renders both unrecognizable under mounds of makeup). At best, the film unintentionally highlights the insanity of a “sport” in which men beat the crap out of each other, what with Pazienza’s fragile body a punch away from death.
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