Tribeca 2024 Review: BANG BANG, Still Fiery After All These Years

Tìm Blake Nelson packs a knockout punch as a pugnacious (retired) boxer in director Vincent Grashaw's stirring drama.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
Tribeca 2024 Review: BANG BANG, Still Fiery After All These Years

Every punch you take, I'll be watching you.

Bang Bang
The film enjoys its world premiere at Tribeca Festival.

Known as Bang Bang during his days as a professional boxer, Bernard Rozyski still lives a combative lifestyle in retirement, existing day to day on ketchup sandwiches and endless bottles of beer, while somehow maintaining his body in tip-top fighting shape as he roams restlessly through his old haunts in Detroit.

His daughter Jen (Nina Arianda) inadvertently reawakens his fighting spirit when she drops off her teenage son Darnell (Glenn Plummer), asking Bernard to look after him for a few days while she gets started on a new job. She would take him with her, except that her new job will be in another state and Darnell has been sentenced to community service and is not allowed to cross state lines.

The premise allows Bernard to get reacquainted with his grandson, and also to quickly size up the strapping young man and decide that he would make a splendid boxer, even though Darnell appears to be a meek, quiet youngster and has no interest in boxing. Of course, training Darnell is more about Bernard settling a score with a past opponent in the ring than with any potential the young man might have.

Directed by Vincent Grashaw (What Josiah Saw, 2021, Coldwater, 2013) from an original script by Will Janowitz, who plays the community service leader, Bang Bang treads on familiar masculine territory, exploring an alpha male who is past his prime yet acts as though he remains the king of the jungle, diffident about his daughter yet responding to his grandson with newfound interest, solely because the kid reminds him of his own youth.

Even so, Tim Blake Nelson's strength of personality infuses the narrative with combustible fuel. He suggests a layer of kindness in Bernard that lies buried beneath his blustery exterior and wearisome 'tough guy' posturing. From time to time, glimmers of humanity escape from under his cantankerous hide without him noticing. Bernard might beat those manifestations of a softer side into a bloody pulp if he recognized them before they got away.

Suggestions are made that Bernard simply doesn't know any better, that he can't help himself, and it's not really his fault. Those are weak excuses for his unrepentantly boorish behavior, yet Tim Blake Nelson carries with him an air of possibility that better angels reside within him, as demonstrated in his renewed relationship with Sharon (Erica Gimpel), an old flame who is now a bartender and still a singer.

With Sharon, Bernard can be sweet, tender, and caring; she sees him how he is, but is still rooting for him to conquer his demons. With his longtime friend John (Kevin Corrigan), Bernard is less outwardly combative, if still self-centered and not such a good friend in return.

In large part, Boom Boom is compelling because of its galvanizing lead performance by Tim Blake Nelson, who makes you believe every word that he says, every glance that he glares, and every punch that he throws.

Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Tim Blake NelsonTribeca 2024Tribeca Film FestivalVincent Grashaw

More about Bang Bang

Around the Internet