Directed by Halle Berry
Stars: Halle Berry, Sheila Atim, Danny Boyd Jr., Adan Canto, Adriane Lenox, and Stephen McKinley Henderson
Halle Berry shows off that theres definitely potential to create some great films as a director. Unfortunately the potential is only shown in small doses, as Bruised fails to land a punch amongst its stacked weight class of sports movies. There’s only so much that Berry could do in front of, and behind the camera to keep this movie from fully flopping but it’s just not enough.
Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.
Think of every sports movie you have ever seen, especially those in the niche genre of combat sports. Now take all the cliches within the genre and put that all into a blender- what you get out of it is Bruised. With every carefully selected camera angle or creative decision that Berry makes, the screenplay she has to work with holds her back fully. Its a near impossible task to try and make the most of your directorial debut when the film you’re tasked with has every cliche under the sun.
As well the screenplay wanted to be a melodrama so bad, literally any problem a human being could have Jackie Justice has on her journey to redemption. The film creates to many issues for Justice that it makes it near impossible to know what the primary objective is. The over bloated two hours and twenty minute runtime etched with every problem under the sun, and instead of ever grounding onto solving the problems- were introduced to more and more problems. None of which ever really get wrapped up in a good way, rather just making the film an overly long uninteresting mess.
The characters are fine. Jackie Justice is interesting enough as a lead and that’s all because of the effort that Berry puts into it. She clearly put in the work to mentally and physically transform into a former UFC fighter, and it shows in her figure and the emotional weight she carries of all her trials and tribulations on her back. Majority of the side characters are like the never ending storylines of the film, they’re rapidly introduced and majority of them never get a proper arch or finish. Sheila Atim is probably the only one that gets some screen time, and she makes the most of it as Justice’s trainer Buddakhan.
There are dozens of sports movies out there, and far more succeed in telling the redemption story. Halle Berry will have a successful career as a director just as she does an actress, but this will be a cliff note in that career.