Haymaker is an Indie film that could have been a neat little hidden gem. Instead, there’s far too much dirt on this diamond to see anything other than a muddy waste. There’s themes of finding one’s purpose, belonging and sexual identity here, but it’s all wrapped up in a pulseless romance between two leads who couldn’t have less chemistry together.
The story here revolves around two key characters. Moody, retired Muay Thai fighter Nick and transgender singer Nomi. Working as a bouncer at a club, Nick rescues Nomi from a thug backstage and winds up working as her bodyguard.
As they jet-set across the world, the relationship between Nick and Nomi grows while the former finds himself conflicted over his feelings. At the same time, Nick also contemplates returning to the ring as ideas of romance and identity are mixed in with a disjointed comeback story that fails to bring much excitement.
On paper, the film actually has the makings of a rather decent, thought provoking story but there’s a litany of problems here that make it difficult to warm up to.
Speaking of temperature, the relationship between Nomi and Nick is non-existent, to say the least. In fact, there were times where it looked like both actors wanted to be anywhere other than in front of a camera.
Artistically, there’s some nice visual flair here and a couple of hedonistic montages but these do the movie no favours as you find yourself desperately trying to warm to the actors inhabiting these warmly lit sets.
Nomi is marginally better as a character but despite lip-syncing the first song she performs, the live singing that follows completely takes the wind out the sails with this one.
In fact, there’s very little here to really take as a positive. Haymaker takes the standard “life after fighting/ finding purpose” story trope but does so by stripping out all the excitement and meaning that comes with these sort of flicks.
Did we really need shots of Nick shaving and getting dressed? What about brushing teeth or dancing really slowly? Probably not, but they’re here anyway and this actually gives the impression of this being more of a vanity project than it perhaps should be – especially given Nick Sasso wrote, directed, edited and starred in this one.
Haymaker is actually more frustrating than disappointing because there’s definitely potential here. With some chemistry between Nomi and Nick, a more charismatic lead actor and a tighter, pacier script, this could have been a lively indie flick. Instead, what we’re left with is a film about an ex-fighter that fails to pack much of a punch.