‘Brian Banks’ Is A Soapy Legal Drama That Never Rises Above Its Magical Sports Movie Tropes [Review]

The Playlist | 8/6/2019 | Andrew Bundy
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For audiences who have been patiently awaiting the movie where comedy filmmaker turned feel-good inspirational director Tom Shadyac (“The Nutty Professor,” “Bruce Almighty”) casts Morgan Freeman to basically play God again, well, that wait is finally over. But the small value beyond that in the sports drama “Brian Banks“— think, “The Blind Side,” and “Glory Road”— littered with a number of problematic plot points and unintentionally offensive narrative emblems, including the exasperating white savior cliché, is negligible.

Based on the true story of the football player after which the film is named— a former linebacker for the Atlanta Falcon’s whose career trajectory was halted when he was falsely accused of sexual assault— “Brian Banks,” is a wobbly, legal sports drama that struggles to overcome extremely poor timing, a muddy message, and its would-be magically uplifting tropes.

Components - Story - Movie - Sort - Commentary

While there are certainly relevant and inspiring components to the real-life story, and the movie is certainly well-intentioned, it was probably never wise to expect any sort of deep social commentary on post #MeToo, racial assumptions and the unjust corruption of our legal system from a courtroom drama directed by the guy who got knocked on the head so hard, he abandoned the millions he made while making Jim Carrey comedies, and dedicated his life to a humanistic spiritualism, living in a trailer park and making so-called meaningful movies.

“Brian Banks,” is your standard sports film until it shifts into legal territory around half-time. Football helped Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) feel free, the voice-over says in a spoon feed. But the former prodigy is now on parole, having been released from prison after pleading “no contest” to sexual assault and kidnapping charges when he was 16— thanks to poor legal advice, he was tried as an adult. Brian is now registered as a sex offender, he can’t...
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