Home Reviews Films Film Review – BANG BANG: Tim Blake Nelson is Electrifying in a Solid and Compelling Character Study [Tribeca 2024]

Film Review – BANG BANG: Tim Blake Nelson is Electrifying in a Solid and Compelling Character Study [Tribeca 2024]

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Film Review – BANG BANG: Tim Blake Nelson is Electrifying in a Solid and Compelling Character Study [Tribeca 2024]

Tim Blake Nelson Bang Bang

Bang Bang Review

Bang Bang (2024) Film Review from the 23rd Annual Tribeca Film Festival, a movie directed by Vincent Grashaw, written by Will Janowitz and starring Tim Blake Nelson, Glenn Plummer, Andrew Liner, Kevin Corrigan, Nina Arianda, Erica Gimpel, Daniella Pineda, Will Janowitz, Dana Namerode, Clayton LaDue, Eliya Or, Mirlande Amazan, Celina Lamon, Josh Kelling and Bogdan Szumilas.

Tim Blake Nelson turns in the performance of his career in the entertaining and fascinating character study, Bang Bang. Nelson portrays Bernard ‘Bang Bang’ Rozyski, a one-time prolific boxer in Detroit whose life has more or less faded into a state of mediocrity. When Bernard takes on the prospect of training his grandson, Justin (Andrew Liner), new opportunities could be on the horizon for the washed-up Bernard. Nelson plays his role in the film with terrific authenticity and quirkiness. Nelson’s performance ranks at the top of lead male performances so far this year and if the year was over now, he’d definitely be deserving of the Best Actor Oscar. He’s that good in a raw performance that hits all the right notes.

Bernard feels his life got away from him when he lost a fight to Darnell Washington (Glenn Plummer), a one-time opponent who has gone on to live a much better life than the one Bernard currently finds himself living. Darnell managed to make a life for himself outside of boxing though boxing is what got his foot into the door and helped him live a successful life.

Nina Arianda plays Jen, Bernard’s daughter, who certainly doesn’t want to see Justin get involved in boxing matches. Bernard sees a great deal of potential in Justin. Bernard presents his grandson, Justin, the option to learn how to fight and, soon, the plot takes off with many surprises thrown in along the way. This film is really a character study of Bernard, a loose cannon who regrets that his life didn’t turn out better than it did. 

There is a great cast here that works together to make Bang Bang a memorable experience. Arianda brings fuel to the fire in the complex role of the no-nonsense Jen. Erica Gimpel as Sharon, a bartender fighting cancer, is particularly noteworthy as she and Bernard start to form a new bond. The scenes between Gimpel and Nelson are some of the best and most well-realized scenes in the picture. Glenn Plummer’s character, Darnell, has managed to maintain his popularity throughout the years and Darnell’s stability is juxtaposed to Bernard’s instability. Plummer is excellent in his part in this film and is particularly effective in the film’s last moments when Bernard sneaks into Darnell’s beautiful home to try to settle a score. A fight scene ensues that is one of the most intriguing scenes at the movies so far this year.

The movie focuses a lot on the scenes between Bernard and Justin. Despite Bernard’s good intentions, things predictably won’t work out the way Bernard wants them to, for whatever reason. There are a  number of incredibly sincere moments between Liner and Nelson. My favorite scene in Bang Bang, however, is when Bernard goes to visit his old home and some young people who reside there let him in. These young folks proceed to look him up on Wikipedia and become fascinated by him. Meanwhile, a girl in the bunch (the terrific Eliya Or) begins to talk to Bernard about his life. This scene felt very real and is competently directed. It also presents the character of Bernard with an opportunity to do drugs and he, eventually, ends up in the hospital as a result of his actions in this sequence of the movie.

Tim Blake Nelson is a revelation in the actor’s best screen work to date. Nelson hammers this performance home with electrifying intensity. Bernard seems like a walking time bomb but there’s underlying sensitivity to his character such as when Bernard sends some money he came into to his grandson. Bernard is unpredictable in nature and the audience won’t know what he’ll say or do next. Under Vincent Grashaw’s capable direction, Nelson sinks his teeth into screenwriter Will Janowitz’s meaty dialogue. One scene has Bernard punching a mirror and when people are concerned about his injured hand, Bernard tells them not to worry about him. He’s moving through life at the speed of a tornado and eventually he’ll have to slow down for his own well-being.

Bang Bang offers such a great piece of acting by Tim Blake Nelson that it feels like one of the great film performances of this year or any year. Nelson is, of course, a talent that has proven himself before but to think that this kind of incredible lead performance would come from him really comes as a true surprise. Though the supporting cast in this film is excellent, Nelson is in a category all his own, making Bang Bang a one-of-a-kind movie-going experience. 

Rating: 8/10

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