“Jawbone” Review ✦✦✦✧✧

13 July, 2017

Director: Thomas Napper
Screenwriter: Johnny Harris
Director of Photography: Tat Radcliffe
Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley

Synopsis: The story of a former champion boxer Jimmy McCabe who succumbs to alcoholism following a series of personal tragedies only to recapture the spirit of his youth by heading back into the ring and taking on a seemingly unbeatable opponent.

Jawbone Review:

Gruff filmmaking at its most hostile, “Jawbone” is a film where punches rarely land on point as crippling body shots cut the ground out from under a struggling boxer’s feet, leaving him pleading for guidance from those he abandoned at the very worst of times. A movie about giving it your all, even when traditional success is futile, “Jawbone” feels like a bareknuckle stand-off between one man and his conscience and its message is one of little triumph but great ratification from writer and star Johnny Harris whose skinhead demeanour offsets him from the standard prize-fighter and places him in a much more unbefitting category.

Forging a story influenced by his own run-ins with sparring, homelessness, and addiction, Harris gives an intensely personal account of rock-bottom determination, using the screenplay as a form of release while crafting a simple story around the man he sees in the mirror. Downtrodden and beaten before he even enters the ring, Jimmy is a meathead without the burly charisma of Stallone or De Niro and his raging bull attitude sways misguidedly before the ball is ever rolling in his favour, rendering his determination somewhat useless before his personal issues have been truly addressed.

Putting down the bottle and picking up the gloves, “Jawbone” opts for the expected route as the smack of punch bags and the squeak of boxing boots indicates a new beginning in a raw and intimate character study. Closer in sensibility to “Warrior” and “The Wrestler” than boxing benchmark “Rocky”, the film rejects montages and the promise of future fame, opting to take the bench with a rather melodramatic terminal illness subplot while later reclaiming the power through a glossy pain and gain boxing match. Although aesthetically sound with a beautiful score and symbolic use of blood, sweat, and tears, “Jawbone” becomes a forgettable and predictable venture into well-worn territory.


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