Draft Day Left with Slim Pickings
Could Kevin Costner’s 2014 have gotten any worse? After an underused role in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and completely wasted in 3 Days to Kill, upwards seems like the only logical direction. But that’s just an optimist talking.
Directed by 80s comedy director, Ivan Reitman, Draft Day ends up playing too close to every other sports film out there. As the GM of the Cleveland Browns, Costner scrambles on the day of the NFL Draft to put together the starts of a turnaround team. In reality, the Browns have never won a Super Bowl. Now it’s time to bring some prestige back to the football club.
Sports movies a dime a dozen, loaded with the same underdog tropes and predictability. The main difference between Draft Day and every other genre film out there is the lack of focus on the actual team. The entire film highlights only one football game. The remainder of the film is constrained in scene after scene in cubicles and offices.
Costner practically has a phone glued to his side for half the film, wheeling and dealing other club GMs. Think Moneyball with zero interest in statistics and practicality. Add on top of that a forced romantic subplot with fellow employee Jennifer Garner and butting heads with skeptical head coach Dennis Leary. There’s Draft Day in laymen’s terms.
Reitman spices up the plot with the film’s editing, aiming for a 24-type style. Multiple events transpire on the screen at same time. Split screens constantly push the other one out of frame. Distracting at times, functional at others, this style of editing does accent the sense of a looming deadline.
If you’re not a die-hard sports fan, Draft Day won’t miraculously win you over. And for those who are, it’s a bit condescending having to spell out onscreen where teams are located. It’s a tad insulting to say Seattle is the “Home of the Seahawks or Buffalo is the “Home of the Bills” when that’s common knowledge.
Time and time again, the question to pose is who is this film actually marketed to? It’s not a roaring underdog football film about teamwork on the field. Neither is it smart enough to be a numbers game in the office. Simply put, revolving a film around the NFL Draft in this fashion doesn’t have the adequate drive.
There’s no question Draft Day is in the safe zone, but that couldn’t be any more direct in the subplots surrounding the top draft picks. All the teams want Bo Callahan (Josh Pence, The Dark Knight Rises), a star out of the University of Wisconsin, who can improve any program. For Cleveland, he’s theirs for the taking. But there’s also Vontane Mack (Chadwick Boseman, 42) and Ray Jennings (Houston Texans’ Arian Foster), who also have their advocates in upper management.
Tensions are at a minimal. Even as the selection clock ticks down, there’s no disguising who will be drafted and who will be left for another pick.
It’s disappointing to see so many fine talents, relegated to such a run-of-the-mill sports drama. Reitman, Costner and Garner are much better than what they’re locked into here. Reitman even drags some of his routine 80s comedy into the film to ease the repetitive office politics. It’s no safety net unfortunately.
By the end, Draft Day provides a false sense of a good feeling that comes packaged with any sports film. It’s a shame that there’s nothing that truly stands out to be chosen first in a theatrical draft.
GRADE: C (2.5/5)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Marshall is a YouTube movie reviewer who hosts MNMreviews. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.