“The Express” A Powerful Trot

Genres: Drama, Adaptation, Biopic and Sports
Running Time: 2 hr. 10 min.
Release Date: October 10th, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality.
Distributors: Universal Pictures

Directed by: Gary Fleder

JJ Rating: B+

Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) was the first black man to win the Heisman Trophy. This is the story of how it came about. The Express.

I think Dennis Quaid, who played Coach Ben Schwartzwalder), and Rob Brown were great in this film. There was a scene where Ben was mad that Ernie played when he demanded him off the field and they had an exchange. Well after Ernie said his final statement there was a pause and the look on Ben’s/Quaid’s face was great. There was process of thinking going on and I think it’s always fascinating to see an actor portray that reaction. Without words he had to show that he was thinking about the point Ernie/Rob had made. It was a good scene. There were several like that throughout the film.

The movie is over 2 hours long and that was slightly noticeable once the end came around where he won the trophy. It was pushing the too long length for a moment, but then it ended and I concluded it was a good movie over all. The storyline had a lot to cover and at times I think they forced too much into it, such as his cousin and his view on how the “white man” was keeping him down. It didn’t feel like it was done well enough to fit into the over all movie. I think those were the most awkward parts of the film. I understand it was important to how the film progressed to show what he was up against, but it was so weirdly confining to what, otherwise, felt like a free flowing movie. It was like they HAD to put him in the film in order to show Ernie as a well rounded person and how he progressed. True as that might be, the way the did it was not the best way.

The Express had me disliking Texas. I rarely dislike Texas because I’m from Texas and I really like Texas. But every place has a dark side (as well as people) to their existence and, of course, Texas is no different. I’ve never felt the need to see Texas lose; like the University of Texas to lose a football game. I was so excited to watch them fail. Ha. Vile behavior by people during that time just could not be explained rationally or even logically. It is sad that it existed and sadder still to see it. But without such adversity Ernie wouldn’t have had the outstanding career with a shining life moment. With the bad comes the good and it’s hard to accept that but it’s true.

When I watch football movies the main thing I get from it is that football, under the right coach, teaches a great deal about being a great man and an honorable man. It teaches respect and appreciation and teamwork that could translate over into those players’ personal lives. It’s similar to having a great father. They are hard because they believe they know how much their son can take, and they are loving because they beam with that pride that only a father can have to see such valor in their son prevail. That’s one of the best reasons to enjoy a football film.

Talking about race is like stating you are humble [the moment you state you are humble is the moment you no longer are]. The moment you state you don’t see race is the moment you admitted there’s a difference. It shouldn’t matter, but it matters just like when someone says they are a Republican or Democrat. Automatically there are opinions formed before even getting to know the person and who they are. Upon seeing a certain race people form prejudices of what to expect and start looking for proof to back it up. Which is how most of the people that didn’t like Ernie reacted in the movie, they saw him from the surface and refuse to acknowledge he had a great gift.

The emotional resonance of the film was perfect for what it was trying to accomplish and that was connection to the audience and a feeling of empathy as well as a smile to see him reach his goal. I do not think it could have done better. With director Gary Fleder’s angles and direction of the actors the film flourished. The action scenes were good with the combination of the football and the commentators and the reactions of crowed in the stands and at home.

The Express is the same story of accomplishment told about a different person. Someone that lived through a difficult time but prevailed because he knew he could and he would and he had great encouragement to push forward. It’s long and slightly felt as it gets towards the end but with the power through 90% of the entire movie, the last bit of trotting it does for the latter 10% can be endured.

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