Brian Banks Review
Dan Skip Allen
Brian Banks, portrayed by Aldis Hodge, is like a lot of young kids in Long Beach, California. He is brought up in a single parent household and isn’t expected to do much with his life. At a young age he found he was good at American football. He became an all state linebacker at Cal Poly being recruited by all the big schools. He liked Pete Carroll and being close to home so he went with his hometown team of USC. This would be the beginning of a career that would lead him straight to the NFL. Where his dreams could come true. This would all change though one fateful day. He caught the eye of Kennisha Rice, portrayed by Xosha Roquemore. They would skedaddle on over to the 700 building where teens that like one another could go and mess around in the stairwell. When a teacher comes into the stairwell Brian gets scared and leaves Kennisha standing there. Kennisha would make Brian’s life a living hell from that moment on. She accused him of rape and he would serve 6 years in prison and 3 years probation for a crime he didn’t commit He would fight the rest of his days just to survive with the inspiration of a book given to him by a mentor in prison.
Greg Kinnear has had an interesting career. He first came on the scene on E! Entertainment television hosting talk soup and then E! News Daily in the 90’s. Shortly thereafter he would get his big break when he was added to the cast of As Good as it Gets. Greg portrays, Justin Brooks the head lawyer of a group called the California Innocence Program. They help prisoners who have been unjustly imprisoned. Brian’s story inspires Justin and his group to help him fight the broken system that put him away for six years and on probation for 3 more.
Sports Movies aren’t as prevalent as they used to be. Every once in a while one comes along that blows you away. We’ve seen a few great football films over the years. Brian’s Song, North Dallas Forty, Rudy and Remember the Titans come to mind. Even a few about athletes overcoming the odds like Ernie Davis in The Express. Brian Banks packs an emotional wallop not seen in a long time. Redemption stories are always very emotional but this film has an extra oomf. I had a some tears flowing throughout and that’s a good thing. All the great films do that if they are done correctly.
Tom Shadyac isn’t usually known for his emotionally charged sports dramas but he sure scored a touchdown with Brian Banks. He usually dabbles in the comedic realm. Films like The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura. Brian Banks isn’t entirely out of his wheelhouse if you think of it inthose terms. This story must have really drawn him to it because of its heart and emotional depth.
Brian Banks can show how the system is broken like in The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington. It also can show how if you have enough faith in people miracles can happen. Sports Films rarely reach such heights but when they do they can be magnificent. Brian Banks is such a film. I implore everybody who likes a good redemption story to seek out this film. Aldis Hodge is a revelation as Brian Banks. Greg Kinnear shows why he was nominated for an Academy Award and Tom Shadyac had reached beyond his comfort level to direct a powerful story of one man’s fight to never give up on himself or society. Brian Banks is extraordinary in every way that matters.
Dan Skip Allen