Rumble Through The Dark (2023) Movie Review – Excellent performances elevate this grim and depressing movie


Aaron Eckhart and Bella Thorne star in this Mississippi-set thriller from directors Graham and Parker Phillips. You can be forgiven for having low expectations going into this one as the directors only have one other feature-length movie to their name, the underwhelming mystery-thriller The Bygone, and the two stars haven’t acted in many good movies over the last few years.

But against the odds, Rumble Through the Dark manages to punch above its weight. Its tale is centred around a bare-knuckle fighter named Jack Boucher (Aaron Eckhart) whose best days are far behind him due to repeated pummellings that have left him with brain injuries. 

Boucher (nicknamed The Butcher) is committed to saving up enough money to save his family home from foreclosure. But after a run-in with a bounty hunter, he loses a wad of his cash, some of which is owed to Big Momma Sweet (Marianne-Jeanne Baptist), the sleazy owner of an illegal fight club. She loaned him money to pay for his foster mother’s medical bills and now wants it back. To make up the repayments he owes, he agrees to take on another fight, which is a dangerous proposition as one more punch could kill him. 

By coincidence, a carnival worker named Annette (Bella Thorne) finds herself in possession of Jack’s money. When the two of them come into contact after he saves her from an assault, she joins him on the road. She later stumbles upon one of his old diaries and after reading through its pages, begins to suspect that he might be her long-lost father – another coincidence. 

That latter plot point is a tad preposterous but it doesn’t sink the movie. This is because of the effective performances of the two leads, who make their characters (and the whole situation) believable. They manage to exhibit the pain that lies beneath the surface of their characters and give us reason to root for them, even through the screenplay’s most contrived moments. 

There’s not a lot of joy in Rumble Through the Dark as it’s about two broken people who can’t seem to catch a lucky break. The movie is particularly bleak because a lot of it is filmed at night, perhaps to exemplify the darkness within each character’s soul. This makes it a hard watch at times, as does the sorrowful tone that makes viewing the movie a depressing experience. 

But there is hope. Annette decides to become Jack’s “angel” to help him through his struggles. By doing so, she finds renewed purpose in her life, away from her miserable existence at the carnival where she worked as an exotic dancer. As their relationship progresses, there is the prospect of brighter days for both of them.

The movie is elevated by the excellent direction from the Phillips brothers who sometimes evoke the work of Terrence Malick within the flashback daytime scenes that are reflective of Jack’s childhood memories of his time living in the country. The hazy scenes of the younger Jack experiencing the beauty of nature are contrasted sharply with the cheerlessness of his adult life. 

Also worthy of note are the fight scenes which are bone-crunchingly brutal and expertly choreographed. The climactic scene of Jack fighting in a caged arena is particularly good, as this older, less agile fighter manages to hold his own against an opponent who is stronger and bigger than he is. 

Rumble Through the Dark is a long movie – its simple story is padded out to a nearly 2-hour running time. But for the patient viewer, it does lead to a fairly satisfying conclusion that makes Jack’s redemptive journey through the darkness worthwhile. However, you might want to watch something lighthearted afterwards to clear your mind of all its blood, dirt and grime.


Read More: Rumble Through The Dark Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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