What's with all the Kevin Costner movies lately? In the past 12
months, he's appeared in Man of Steel, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,
and 3 Days to Kill. Given the quality of these movies, maybe he should
have stayed semi-retired.
It’s not like the movies he made beforehand were much better, but at
least his pre-2013 work had slowed to a crawl. One shitty movie a year is
better than four shitty movies in one year, which brings us to Draft Day,
a shitty, overlong NFL commercial that is nonetheless kind of charming in its
stupidity and aw-shucks love of football.
That’s not to say it doesn’t know football is a business; Draft
Day is called Draft Day and not Football Rules!, and it’s all
about buying and selling professional athletes, much like Moneyball is
about the money and statistics of baseball.
In other words, there’s no actual football here—just a lot of rich
white guys vying for prospects who will soon be rich if they remain
injury-free. Costner is Sonny Weaver Jr., the Cleveland Browns general manager
and the guy in charge of draft picks. Except he isn’t in charge. The team
owner, Anthony (Frank Langella, who you’d think would be better as the heavy),
wants Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), a hotshot quarterback who’s bound to be the
first pick in the first round, but there’s no way the Browns can get him
because they have seventh pick. Plus, the head coach (Denis Leary) wants a
bigger say than he has.
Enter the wheeling and dealing. The Seattle Seahawks general
manager, Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit), calls Sonny up with a terrible
deal, and Sonny takes it. He doesn’t want the deal, and Michaels is a prick.
(How do you know he’s a prick? Movie trope: Because he eats food loudly on the
phone and tells you he’s eating.)
Pawns in all the wheeling and dealing are Vontae Mack (Chadwick
Boseman), an outside linebacker Sonny wants, running back Ray Jennings (Arian
Foster), oft-injured Browns quarterback Brian Drew (Tom Welling), and the Browns’
salary cap executive, Ali (Jennifer Garner), who’s always game despite being
relegated to second-fiddle roles like this). And don’t forget Sonny’s dead
father, the former Browns head coach, whose shadow still looms large; there’s
always a dead father.
How does it all shake out? Well, duh. This is a sports movie
starring Kevin Costner. If you can’t guess, you really shouldn’t be in the
game. But despite Draft Day’s overcomplicated premise and easy-to-grasp
machinations, it’s highly watchable. Costner is at his best in sports tales,
and he displays grit, determination and wit that are missing from most of his
Director Ivan Reitman (?!!) does his best to suck the air out of the
movie—there are seemingly endless establishing shots of various team cities
that must have been a condition of NFL permissions—and there’s a clunky split-screen/moving
screen editing trick that keeps popping up whenever someone’s on the phone. But
when all the old white men are yelling at each other, it kind of works.
by Ivan Reitman
Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary
Santa Fe Reporter