Big Jim Review The Express

I am finally back to writing reviews. After a long painkiller induced absence I am treading out again into the world of critical writing. It may take a while to get back up to speed, but I am sure I'll get there.

Sports movies are best served by either fandom or some form of indifference, but indifference is preferable. You see, if you are a fan the events of the film become colored to suit your particular fandom, which is great if your team is on the winning side of things, and terrible if it isn't. That being said, I suffered greatly during this film.

"The Express,"which chronicles the career of Ernie Davis, the first African American to ever win The Heisman Memorial Trophy is a tragic film. It begins with a culture of racism, takes you through segregation, forces you to endure The Texas Longhorns losing of a national championship, follow that up with a Longhorn losing the Heisman trophy, and then ends with the protagonist dying at 23 from leukemia.

I know that the UT losses are not supposed to be tragic, but from my point of view, they were devastating. This is the first sports biopic that found me wanting the protagonist to lose. I didn't have anything against Davis, he was an amazing guy by all accounts, but if Jesus himself were quarterback of a team playing UT, I would be praying for him to get benched with a pulled hamstring.

My bias aside, this is a good film. It hits all the notes you want a rousing sports flick to hit. I know that it is about more than football, that the racial issues in the film are really at center stage, but in this kind of film if the action on the field doesn't work it is difficult to really get into what is happening off the field. For any sports film to work, even if sports aren't really the thematic focus, it is necessary to balance between the two.

I was reminded of "Invictus." A fine film, but as I know as much about rugby as I do about cricket, it was difficult to get into the drama of it all. That wasn't a problem with The Express.

Even though I was rooting squarely against Syracuse, and by default squarely against civil justice, in the title game, I still found myself pulled into what was going on. It is a powerful story that is told rather well. Is it clichéd at times? Yes. Of course it is, it's a sports movie. No matter what you do in this arena, you are going to hit some clichés, that's just how these movies work. Are the clichés enough to take you out of it? Not really. Davis is an interesting enough guy and someone that I knew so little about that his story really got my attention.

Even if you aren't really into sports films there is something to enjoy here. This is a moving story that is fairly well told and worth the two hours.


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