Bruised Movie Review
Since winning an Oscar for Monster’s Ball back in 2001, Halle Berry has rarely headlined a good movie. Sadly, her directorial debut Bruised doesn’t deviate from the trend, though you can at least tell Berry really wants to break the curse.
In Bruised, Berry also stars as Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter looking to rebuild her reputation while dealing with a harsh personal life. Due to her profession, Jackie is often banged up and bloodied, though the weariness in her eyes speaks to much deeper, more tragic pain.
Not a bad movie by any means, Bruised is simply mediocre, a hackneyed blend of other, better movies. There’s nothing in Bruised we haven’t seen before; Berry, working from a screenplay by Michelle Rosenfarb, layers on the trauma and crapiness that she and her young son have suffered through. None of it really hits home in the way intended, though young Danny Boyd Jr. does a fine job of expressing the absolute fear he lives through day in and day out.
The real problem is that Bruised never feels like it’s building to something great. I’m a sucker for boxing movies (and more recently select MMA movies), despite having zero interest in watching fights in real life. Boxing movies, from Rocky to Warrior, almost always follow a proven formula that involve the protagonist overcoming adversity to win, or at least come close to winning, a big match. Sometimes the drama in between is terrific, and sometimes it isn’t, but a few great fight sequences can help smooth things out and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Bruised doesn’t make you feel that way, even though the movie roughly attempts to follow the formula. Kudos to Berry for leaning heavily into the dramatic elements of the story, but she loses sight of the demand for some great action to go along with it. The big climax is decent but not particularly memorable.
Bruised is one of the better Halle Berry movies in recent memory and for a directorial debut there is enough here to appreciate, but overall it’s a film fighting in a genre that is out of its class.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.