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Review: The Express

The Express
Oct. 10, 2008by:
7 10

Plot: The true story of Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), who, while playing for Syracuse University under Coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), became the first African-American to win the famed Heisman Trophy.

Review: Ah... the inspirational sports film. How I love thee. Im a sucker for these types of films. While Im definitely no sportsman in real life, I really believe that sports is a great way to unify people from all types of backgrounds and that throughout history its been a great equalizer. When youre on a team with someone race & religion suddenly takes a backseat and people who normally might have nothing to do with each other off the field are able to form a strong lasting bond with each other through the pursuit of victory.

But enough philosophizing- hows the movie? Its actually not bad at all. While its not BRIANS SONG or HOOSIERS, its actually a damn fine inspirational sports film a la RUDY or MIRACLE.. Anyone who knows the Ernie Davis story is aware of the bittersweet turn his life took- and the filmmakers credit- they actually portray his life accurately. It would have been very easy for them to end the film once he won the Heisman but they actually portray what happened AFTER he won the award which makes the film a cut above in my opinion.

The film also boasts an excellent cast led by Rob Brown as Davis. Brown has been laying low since starring in FINDING FORRESTER, but hes in excellent form here. I really think this could be the beginning of a bright career for Brown, and I hope hes able to continue getting substantial roles.

As always, Dennis Quaid is rock solid as Coach Schwartzwalder. While he definitely takes a backseat to Brown, hes excellent in the role, and wisely portrays Schwartzwalder warts and all. While Schwartzwalder may have been progressive when it came to recruiting black athletes- he wasnt the most tolerant guy off the field, and this is portrayed in the film.

While I overall I quite enjoyed the film, its far from the perfect film. It runs just a little over two hours, and perhaps it would behoove the filmmakers to cut out a good 10-15 minutes, as the pace does lag at times. Also- the filmmakers obviously subscribe to the Jerry Bruckheimer School of filmmaking- with lots of quick cutting, and plenty of heroic low-angle shots of Davis with the American flag in the background. At times the film is also a little too earnest for its own good- but in the end, its entertaining so who cares?

If, like me, you like these types of films- I wholeheartedly recommend THE EXPRESS. While it probably doesnt demand to be seen on the big screen- itll make for a damn fine DVD or Blu-Ray rental when it eventually comes out.

Grade: 7.5/10



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