Release Date: November 13, 2015
Director: Angelo Pizzo
Writer: Angelo Pizzo, Jim Dent (book)
Cast: Finn Wittrock, Sarah Bolger, Robin Tunney, Aaron Eckhart, Kristin McKenzie, Todd Allen, Mackenzie Meehan, Richard Kohnke, Donny Boaz, Michael Reilly Burke, Marco Perella, Emily Grace Dunn, Tracey Ely, Juston Street, Rebecca Chulew, Alex MacNicoll, Deborah Abbot, Stephen Stanton, Tim Ogletree, Troy Ogletree, Austin Willis, Gary Teague, Rett Terrell, Zane-Eric Matthews
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 118 minutes
Production Company: Anthem Productions, Paul Schiff Productions, Clarius Entertainment
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)
If I had to choose one sport over them all, it undoubtedly would be football. Also being from Texas, I was sure these two were the perfect marriage for a dramatic biography that would resonate with me. With an A-class talent leading the way by Aaron Eckhart, expecting a remarkable rendition of past events that strikes you emotionally isn’t much to ask for. While paying respect to the true story, it tried a number of times to get you on board, but you’re too fatigued to welcome it all in once you do. I wanted to care about the characters, and witness what obstacles they had to overcome. Instead the film struggles to keep your attention, by trading in overall development for a horrific tragedy towards the end.
If there were re-shoots that took place during production, the film did an atrocious job of splicing it all together. For being such a great actor, the introduction with Eckhart felt like a script read instead of a genuine conversation. That continued short after with attempts of displaying the severity of the sport, and how important true character growth really is.
The footage of the game on the field wasn’t as bad, and kept my attention when present. Being a fan of the game, it was nice to see passion on the field as each player gave their all. One of the initial coaches was over the top, and I say that due to his bad acting begging for laughs. Fortunately that was quickly washed away by the portrayal of Freddie Steinmart (Finn Wittrock). If Steinmart was really this humble, it’s easy to see why he was so adored. This guy is my hero, and Wittrock made sure of that most certainly. I was reminded what true passion and determination is by his performance, and ate him up the moment he was on screen. I can’t remember the last time I loved a character so much, encouraging me to do research on his life for the short time he was here.
The rest of the film could’ve taken a page out of his book. It didn’t have the same attention and focus to detail that was put into Steinmart’s role. Initially while the footage of the game came off realistic, the editing was poor bouncing all around. It didn’t give you a chance to enjoy, or care about anyone or anything else. It was all rushed together. I didn’t care about the team, their mission, or the reason they were in their current state. It picked up when tragedy hit the fan, and I soon began to care. This was only during the second half of the film which came at the right time, because I was ready to give up and leave. The ending was extremely emotional, but the foundation that got the audience there was as flimsy as a blade of grass.
This film could’ve been so much more. I’m surprised at how different the tone is from the first half of the film to the second. It appears to be two different films, put together by two different directors. That’s a hard pill to swallow seeing that it was written, and directed by the same person (Angelo Pizzo). Maybe it stems from this being his directorial debut. The story is still a fascinating one, and I appreciate the message. Though if the same amount of effort that was put into the core conclusion was present during the inception of this picture, it could’ve been a classic tale of a once remarkable man.