Boxing is without a doubt the king of cinematic sports. No other sport receives as much attention when it comes to the big screen, especially in recent years. We’ve come to expect at least one or two new boxing movies every twelve months. As a result some may have become a little tired with the genre. Whilst I don’t really get excited about boxing movies, I find them easily enjoyable and if they deliver they can have quite an effect on me.
‘Jawbone’ is the latest boxing film to step into the cinematic ring, written by and starring Johnny Harris. ‘Jawbone’ isn’t your standard Hollywood boxing flick though. You’ll not find any ‘Rocky’ style training montages here. Instead ‘Jawbone’ feels much more realistic and grounded. The actual scenes of boxing are some of, if not the most brutal I’ve ever seen in a film. With only a ninety minute run time there isn’t all that much actual boxing but the final fight that the narrative leads to is powerful enough to carry the weight of the audience’s expectations. At first I thought the fight was going to be laden with shaky cam and quick cuts. To start with it is but these techniques actually work in favour of the film, adding a level of intensity to the fight which definitely paid off. As well as delivering that physical punch the film packs an emotional one too. Never in an over sentimental way but much like the rest of the film it feels real. It took me by surprise at just how invested I had become when these emotional moments hit, which showcases the level of writing present here.
Harris is responsible for much of this emotion as the writer and lead actor. His character, Jimmy, is a troubled one to say the least. As an audience member you’ll want to route for him but at times Jimmy makes this difficult for viewers. He’s not a safe character for a film like this but he offers an interesting dynamic which could have been hard to pull off. Again credit to Harris’s writing is due but also for his fantastic performance. Alongside Harris is a trio of acting heavyweights in the form of Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley & Ian McShane. Each bring a further authenticity to the film helping to create the level-headed tone that the film holds. I would have loved to have seen more of McShane in his role but the film doesn’t have any unnecessary scenes. Decisions like this helped to keep the film succinct at it’s ninety minute length.
More about the man than the sport ‘Jawbone’ offers a refreshing change from the tired Hollywood tropes of the boxing genre. The swift running time, brutal fight sequences and grounded tone all go a long way in creating something very credible here. The knockout cast and strong writing only further elevate the success of ‘Jawbone’ making it a fine addition to the sporting genre.
Rating – 8/10
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