Not your run-of-the-mill fight for glory or fame, Jawbone is the story of one man’s punishment and pursuit of change to a life that has left him hollowed out and terribly broken.
Johnny Harris plays Jimmy McCabe, a former junior boxing champ and alcoholic forced out onto the streets after being handed his final eviction notice from his childhood home. Left stranded and alone, McCabe finds himself returning to the only place he still knows: his boyhood boxing club. Striking an agreement with owner Bill (Ray Winstone) to let him train on the condition that he doesn’t catch a whiff of alcohol in his gym or hear of any illegal fighting, McCabe spends his days training and nights sneaking in by rooftop to sleep in the gym.
While McCabe’s reasons for falling onto a darker path are never really made known or explored, Harris gives a strong performance as a man struggling with his inner demons and heavy alcoholism. When he seeks out Joe (Ian McShane), the man who sets up unlicensed fights, there is a real tension to the meeting that further demonstrates how far the protagonist has fallen from grace. While McCabe agrees to fight a brutish Northerner above his weight class who is known for hurting people, it is clear his heart isn’t in it. He is a man desperately trying to change, but looking for hope in all the wrong places.
Director Thomas Q Napper keeps the scenes thick and emotive, while the cinematography, combined with an original score by Paul Weller, gives real weight to the weaknesses McCabe struggles with. Scenes in the ring carry themselves amongst the greats thanks to Harris being trained for over a year by boxer Barry McGuigan and trainer Shane McGuigan. Overall, the story would have been improved with a little more focus on how the main character started his downward spiral, but despite this his battle draws empathy all the same. For what could have been yet another formulated boxing film, Jawbone carries its own weight with a story that is not so much based around the sport itself, but on a man’s attempt at finding solace with a life that hasn’t shaped up the way it was supposed to.
Jawbone is released nationwide on 17th March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Jawbone here: