Review: ‘Jawbone’ Showcases A Man’s Struggles In And Out Of The Ring

Jawbone tells the story of Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris) – a former celebrated boxer whose life has spiraled out of control. A year after Jimmy’s mom has passed away, he finds himself facing eviction and suffering from a serious drinking problem. Jimmy is down on his luck, is desperate for money, has been arrested due to his uncontrollable temper, and does indeed get evicted – making him homeless. Jimmy decides that he needs to turn his life around and that boxing is the way to get his life back on track.

At his old boxing gym, Jimmy is greeted by a cast of familiar faces from his past. His old trainer and owner of the boxing club – Bill (Ray Winstone) – decides to help Jimmy. Before agreeing to train him again, Bill makes it clear that alcoholism will not be tolerated. If Jimmy is drunk or Bill stumbles across alcohol being brought into the club, Jimmy would be out on his ass. Jimmy begins breaking into the club and sleeping there while working out in the middle of the night to try and get back into fighting shape. Still desperate for money, Jimmy agrees to an unlicensed boxing match against a fierce and brutal competitor, but will he be ready in time?

Jawbone is a redemption story through and through. We see Jimmy at the lowest of lows and the audience gets behind him – hoping his tortured soul can get some salvation. His journey is not an easy one and he is always fighting his demons – alcoholism and his anger – but luckily for him he has a support system and an outlet with boxing. It is uplifting to see Jimmy shift his energy from drinking and being mad at the world into training and preparing for his fight. Boxing gives him a sense of purpose, makes him feel like an actual person with some worth – and he becomes a character we can root for.

Jawbone is directed by Thomas Napper. Napper employs numerous close ups, providing the audience with an extreme sense of Jimmy’s emotions and anguish. The camerawork that Napper features throughout Jawbone is shaky and unsettled, similar to Jimmy’s life. We get an idea of how Jimmy feels by the camera techniques that give a figurative glimpse into his psyche. Johnny Harris has his fingerprints all over the film, having also written and produced as well as starring in it. Harris is able to successfully create a role for himself that showcases his range of emotions. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true boxing movie without a training montage, and Jawbone makes sure to check that box. There are definitely better boxing films out there, but Jawbone does manage to have you feel for the characters and is a relatively entertaining story of a man finding his purpose again – it just happens to be in the ring. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5