REVIEW: Bleed for This

3 06 2017

Let’s be honest about what “Bleed for This” is: an excuse for Miles Teller to have a Men’s Fitness spread. It’s a move every bit as calculated as Disney cashing in on some intellectual property. The film is not art but a vessel for professional growth, the means to an end rather than an end unto itself.

“Bleed for This” gives Miles Teller an excuse to bulk up and slim down in the name of acting, a classic and predictable agent or manager’s maneuver. It gives him the excuse to post a #gymselfie with his new six-pack without seeming like too big of a tool. It grants him the leeway to expand his repertoire from charming, accessible boy next door to libidinous sex symbol. Then he can prance around in a thong in the film, completing the star circle and reminding us that this whole endeavor has little to do with Vinny Pazienza, the boxer whom he plays. It’s all about Teller and his journey.

The film itself tells such a familiar tale – promising athlete, devastating accident, impossible recovery, triumph of the human spirit – that it’s all too easy for Teller to run over Pazienza’s narrative with his own. His toned body may be different, but this is the same cocksure Miles Teller we’ve seen in everything from “The Spectacular Now” to “War Dogs.” Writer/director Ben Younger, who arrived on the scene in 2000 with the oblique satirical “Boiler Room” about hypermasculine Wall Street traders, could easily have reined in his leading man. Instead, he’s helpless to stop the Hollywood publicity machine his movie became. C-

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