Review: DRAFT DAY (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review: DRAFT DAY (2014)

Despite the fresh premise dealing with behind-the-scenes dealings of the NFL, Ivan Reitman botches the movie with mediocre direction while Kevin Costner's performance is disappointingly stiff.

Once upon a time, Kevin Costner used to be an iconic actor whenever there's a sports movie associated to him. Among prime examples are his two baseball classics -- BULL DURHAM (1988) and FIELD OF DREAMS (1989), and to lesser extent, his golf comedy, TIN CUP (1996). And for some reasons, I'm glad to see him back in the genre he used to excel at and this time we get to see him in a NFL football movie. On the surface, DRAFT DAY sounds like a potential hit for his flagging career since he gets to work with veteran director Ivan Reitman (GHOSTBUSTERS, TWINS), while the MONEYBALL-like premise which chronicles on the behind-the-scenes dealings of NFL is refreshing novel than your regular football genre. Unfortunately, DRAFT DAY is yet another disappointment this year for Kevin Costner.


Set within the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft, the movie centres around Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner), the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who tries to overcome his personal problems -- his legendary father's recent death and his estranged secret relationship with salary caps executive Ali (Jennifer Garner) -- while struggling to get the number one draft pick for his wobbly team. While the clock is ticking, Sonny's boss, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) is pressurized him to do the right thing by picking a worthwhile individual that can make a splash for Cleveland Browns. And for a while there, the first pick on a star-in-the-making quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence) seems like a good deal. Unfortunately, the team coach, Vince Penn (Denis Leary), doesn't sounds too pleased about the selection because he doesn't want to work with an overpriced rookie.

If I want to give credit to this movie, I would say that kudos to Scott Rothman's and Rajiv Joseph's screenplay for manage to present this subject matter of NFL draft in layman's terms. The final scene, which sees Sonny utilizes his last-minute strategy to make an offer to different teams, is the only time where the movie found its right footing.

Of all the cast here, I would say only Denis Leary emerges the best as the outspoken team coach, Vince Penn.
Nope, I can't find one to be included over here.
For a football movie that dares to explore uncharted territory on the drafting process, it's a pity that the overall screenplay is mostly tedious.

Even sadder is Ivan Reitman's haphazard direction where he fails to make the drama engaging enough and the comedy funny enough to warrant sustainable interest. It also doesn't help when the movie is surprisingly lack of tension for this kind of premise. Although he does make a little effort to spice up his movie by showing some of the scenes in a 24-like split-screen image, the effects feels more like a cheap gimmick than a solid execution.

Worst still, the movie doesn't even bother to show on-the-field action centres on potential players like Bo Callahan, Brain Drew (Tom Welling), Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and Ray Jennings (Arian Foster). And no, those footage where Sonny is trying to analyze the way Bo and Vontae play in the field doesn't count.

Problem is, the movie spends too much time showing the people at the office talking and debating about their potential players without actually showing the players' potential in a more effective visual representation. Such mistake brought me several questions like: Why do we care? Or what makes Bo Callahan, who seems like "the next big thing" in the NFL, would make a huge impact for a team? Without sufficient visual support to justify their potential, it's easy to say that the story takes the lazy route (read: easy way out) by just represent the characters' certain capabilities through verbal conversation. Furthermore, this is a movie about NFL draft we are talking about -- a subject matter that wouldn't be interesting for those who are not die-hard football fans. Perhaps Reitman and his company should take a pointer or two from MONEYBALL because that movie, which centres on the behind-the-scenes management of a baseball team, makes the supposedly difficult subject matter looks very interesting for both fans and non-fans.

Another problem here is the main actor himself. After last year's great supporting turn in MAN OF STEEL, Kevin Costner looks set to make a late-career comeback this year starting with JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT and followed by 3 DAYS TO KILL. Unfortunately both of these two movies failed to capitalize his comeback potential and I'm regret to say that Costner hits his third losing streak in DRAFT DAY. As Sonny Weaver, Jr., his acting is wooden while his presence is not commanding enough to make his character worth investing for. Since this movie is obviously heavy on dialogue, one would expect that an actor must be remarkably solid to keep the viewers hooked throughout the running time. Unfortunately, Costner isn't the right man for the job. Equally disappointing as well is Jennifer Garner. She is particularly wasted in a thankless role where I can only remember her beautiful smile but nothing else.

In the end, DRAFT DAY looks more like a football version of MONEYBALL wannabe than a potentially good movie it supposes to be. What a waste of opportunity.

* This review is written courtesy from GSC Movies press screening *


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