A little while ago, I was very fortunate to sit in on a special preview of the upcoming Kevin Costner film 'Draft Day'. And despite the fact that I know next to nothing about football, I went in expecting great things and walked out of the theatre smiling.
The basic breakdown of the plot is as follows: Costner plays Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver Jr. who is having a tough day as he and the other major teams of the NFL scramble to get their number one draft picks for the 2014 football season. Along the way, he makes a lot of tough decisions and choices that while at first don't seem reasonable to his staff or the rest of the league, in the end he makes the right call, for the good of the team.
Costner does a spectacular job as Weaver, he carries the character with grace and quiet dignity and brings once more, that classic Costner style of taking a role and making it his own. Alongside Costner is Jennifer Garner as Ali, Sonny's salary cap specialist and secret office romance. Filling in is Denis Leary as the Super Bowl winning coach Sonny has hired to replace his recently deceased father (whose legacy as the head coach for the team is felt throughout the film). Then there is Frank Langella as the Brown's owner who keeps Sonny under pressure to pick only the best.
Added into the mix is 'Smallville' star Tom Welling as Brown's QB Brian Drew, Chadwick Boseman as Ohio State linebacker Vontane Mack (one of Sonny's top choices for draft picks), NFL Houston Texans running back Arian Foster as Ray Jennings, whose father (played by Terry Crews), is a former Browns player, who wants nothing more then to play on his father's team and Josh Pence as superstar Wisconsin QB (and the prize pig coveted by many for 1st pick) Bo Callahan.
The film does an excellent job of holding audience attention, with a classic 'ticking clock' counting down how much time is left for Sonny until his draft picks need to be selected. There is also this constant flow of locations, from war rooms to locker rooms, to front office's and supply closets, Radio City Music Hall green rooms, and the handy trick of using multiple-frame/split-screen scenes and sweeping shots of the cities and stadiums of many noted NFL teams.
For all out there who are die-hard NFL fans, the film is a must see. Not only does it present legitimate behind the scenes material on what actually goes on for making draft picks, but the film is also graced with the presence of ESPN broadcasting favorites and the NFL Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell. For everyone else who isn't all that into football, the movie will educate and inform you as to a sliver of what goes on for in the hectic world of professional football. And while this movie may very well be buried when 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' opens next week, this film is a welcome bright spot in a slow movie season.
At the end of it all, I found myself entertained and informed because of this movie. I was entertained by the performances of the many fine actors who come together in this motion picture, and I was informed by all the information I now have about one of the most important facets of the mighty sports machine that is the NFL. My final star count for this sports picture, 5 out of 5. Come April 11 when this movie opens, I recommend it for everyone out there.