review by Bobby Blakey
Throughout her career Halle Berry has taken on a wide variety of roles including superheros, comedies, action films and so much more. Now she is taking on double duty as both star and director for her latest film Bruised. The film co-stars Adan Canto, Shamier Anderson, Danny Boyd, Jr., Adriane Lenox, Sheila Atim, Valentina Shevchenko, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, but does it give her a chance to showcase a wider range and talent or will it fail to land the finishing blow?
Bruised follows Jackie Justice a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace. Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after her last fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny, the son she gave up as an infant, shows up at her doorstep.
After seeing Berry being a total badass in John Wick 3 I was eager to see what she brought the role of a fighter. There are plenty of fights and training montages in the film, but there is so much more to the story than the action. This is a pretty heavy tale of desperation, redemption, loss, abuse and so much more. There are so many layers to this story and it was way deeper than I had thought it was going to be.
Berry is outstanding here both in front and behind the camera. There is a gritty visual tone that fits to perfection with what’s going on in her life. Berry offers up one of her best performances in a while that is layered and deep while heartbreaking at times. She is all in here with this role both the dialogue and physicality. While not all the fighting elements are overly exciting they are well shot and executed. Berry proves she can bring the pain with some pretty impressive moves that she has clearly trained hard to be as real as possible.
The young man playing her son, Danny Boyd Jr., is excellent. He doesn’t speak
throughout the film, but speaks volumes in his performance. HE brings so much to the table without uttering a single word which would be impressive for an adult actor, but for someone so young to understand this role is outstanding. He and Berry have great chemistry without ever having a single back and forth conversation.
I was really surprised at how much is here since I just thought it was going to be about the fighting back to be a champion story. That is there, but also so much more. I also really love that it doesn’t go with the traditional Hollywood ending and allows it to keep its focus on the real story outside of the ring.
Check out Bruised streaming exclusively November 24th on Netflix.