The biggest takeaway from Bruised is that Halle Berry is a shockingly great director. She proves herself to be great behind the camera, and her performance here as former UFC fighter Jackie “Pretty Bull” Justice is equally wonderful to watch. Sadly though, Bruised as a whole does not live up to Berry’s calibre of work, suffering greatly from a predictable and oftentimes boring script (written by Michelle Rosenfarb) that feels significantly longer than it needs to be, filled with unnecessary subplots and too many tropes to forgive.
Why does every sports drama have to have some huge “hype-up” montage sequence where the lead character fails for a long time and then gets incredibly skilled in just a few scenes? This happens in far too many movies and, you guessed it, Bruised does the same exact thing. And as mentioned, it’s also painfully predictable: what to expect for the final act becomes crystal clear very early on, which saps any and all tension from a script that desperately needs it.
We are all familiar with the old saying that “the journey is what matters most”. That much certainly rings true for a film, and that’s why Bruised being as predictable as it is hurts even more. Any audience will be able to guess where the story is heading, given that it is an underdog sports movie to the highest and truest degree. While there is a fair amount of time given to character development for Berry’s Jackie, the film fails to give its viewers a reason to care for her plight, or to invest in her struggle. The revenge angle of the film also feels incredibly forced and unnecessary to the overall storyline, while also struggling to find tonal consistence.
In the end, Bruised offers nothing new – and that is undoubtedly the film’s greatest sins. Despite everything, Berry is absolutely stellar as director and legitimately intimidating as the movie’s central figure. She brings a worn physicality and passion to the role that speaks highly of her commitment to this project. It’s just all-the-more disappointing that the overall film couldn’t match her talents.
Bruised is out now on Netflix.