Miles Teller continues to prove he’s one of our best actors with this riveting true story about a rags-to-riches sports underdog. Based on the real-life story of Vinny Pazienza, a Providence boxer who won two world title fights before a horrific car accident left him severing his spine and paralyzed, this inspirational film finds our hero refusing to let a severe injury stop him from accomplishing his dream in the ring.
Directed by Ben Younger (Boiler Room), the film is a rousing sports drama with the feel of a made-for-TV movie. It’s not without its flaws, but it is an enthralling solarmovie film to watch. The main strength is Miles Teller’s performance. He gives the character of Vinny Pazienza a raw edge that’s both sympathetic and compelling. Younger captures the thrill of his ring exploits and the agonizing process of his recovery with great skill.
The rest of the cast is strong, too. Aaron Eckhart delivers a solid performance as a bald, out-of-shape trainer who isn’t quite up to the task of helping Vinny recover. Katey Sagal, Ciaran Hinds and Ted Levine round out the supporting cast with a wide variety of personalities that bring the eccentric Rhode Island family to life. The story may be a bit too familiar to fans of sports movies, with elements borrowed from everything from Raging Bull and Southpaw to The Fighter. But there’s also a fun 1980s soundtrack that adds to the overall feel of the film.
It’s a shame that this film didn’t make a bigger splash in the box office and didn’t garner any awards attention. Nevertheless, it’s still worth checking out if you enjoy sports movies or are a fan of the underdog genre in general. It may not be a great film, but it’s a fun and inspirational story that will leave you with plenty to think about long after the final credits have rolled.