Denis Leary, Frank Langella, and Kevin Costner in Draft Day
Kevin Costner is having the year of his life, I swear. He is the star of three different movies. Its like its the 90s all over again! This time he stars in Draft Day, where he plays the General Manager of the NFL football team, the Cleveland Browns. He is under a lot of stress. This movie is supposed to show the inner-workings of a real draft room. How it works, how the people act, and all of that stuff. But you still get a feeling this movie is trying to capitalize off of the success of Moneyball.
When the movie starts, you see the stress of Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) as he finds out he is about to be a father for the first time and he still has Draft Day to worry about. He has the seventh pick in the NFL Draft, and he has two players who want him to pick them. We have Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and Ray Jennings (Arian Foster). But Sonny is also dealing with the death of his father, which happened only week prior. He listens to the radio show that seems like it is pulled straight out of NBC’s Friday Night Lights when he keeps hearing things about him that he doesn’t want to hear. But he gets the opportunity of a lifetime when Seattle Seahawks General Manager Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit) calls him wanting to give up the first overall pick.
And this is just the start of Draft Day. He is surrounded by people who are trying to influence his pick. It comes from all angles. The owner, played by Frank Langella, tries to force his hand in one direction; while the new head coach, played by Denis Leary, tries to force him in another. Jennifer Garner appears as his love interest. Their romance is really realistic in my eyes. I loved her character though. It is rare for me to like Garner in anything these days. It might be her whispering voice, or her wooden acting and movement; but I haven’t been a fan. But that changed here. I liked her as Ali. She is a strong woman with a tremendous work ethic. The love storyline didn’t really hit home with me, but Garner was good in her role. She was better in this than she was in the Oscar nominated Dallas Buyers Club.
I went into this movie thinking it was just going to be one giant advertisement for the NFL. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. They had the NFL Network very present, but other than that, it wasn’t a glorified advertisement in my opinion. They tried to show how a draft room really works, and I think they succeeded at that. Some things didn’t work. Ellen Burstyn as Sonny’s mother was a flop for me. Some of the scenes weren’t really necessary. Plus, there is the whole “too similar to Moneyball” argument. Yes, it feels like to mimic Moneyball with their story, but it wasn’t obvious. The way the story goes, with who is against Sonny, is right from that move; but it wasn’t bad.
This movie works because of Kevin Costner. He sinks his teeth into this role and he is awesome in every scene. Either from making a simple phone call to a quarterback from Wisconsin who could be taken #1 overall (Josh Pence) or yelling at his current veteran quarterback (Tom Welling), he nails it all. This movie is a basic movie elevated by Costner’s performance. His yelling dialogue is sold very well and his funny lines are landed with perfect timing.
One of the downsides of this movie is it’s predictability. From the first ten minutes, I knew exactly what would happen. But that’s okay. This isn’t supposed to be a twist-and-turn kind of movie. But a little shock here or there would be nice. Everyone around Costner works well, but this is his show. And he kills it.
Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver Jr.
Denis Leary as Coach Penn
Jennifer Garner as Ali
Ellen Burstyn as Barb Weaver
Frank Langella as Anthony Molina
Chadwick Boseman as Vontae Mack
Terry Crews as Earl Jennings
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as Chris Crawford
Josh Pence as Bo Callahan
Tom Welling as Brian Drew
Arian Foster as Ray Jennings
Patrick St. Esprit as Tom Michaels
Chi McBride as Walt Gordon
David Ramsey as Thompson
Griffin Newman as Rick the Intern
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Kevin Costner does some great work as Sonny Weaver Jr. He s fantastic here and elevates everyone around him, along with the movie itself. He makes this movie better than it honestly should be.
+: Some great supporting actors around Costner, including Denis Leary and Jennifer Garner, who surprisingly, is very good in her role.
+: Some very good dialogue and intense moments, even if those moments are rather predictable.
+: Showing the mechanics behind a real draft room was well done here. I have no idea if this is actually how a draft room works, but this movie made me believe it. A lot of things go into it. A lot of phone calls, back and forth, and tape. It doesn’t sound exciting, but this movie kind of made it so.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: The love story was kind of a dud.
-: They could have taken Ellen Burtyn out of the movie completely and it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the movie. She was a flop for me.
-: Borrowed elements from Moneyball were apparent, as the story followed an extremely similar line.
-: Very predictable.