The true-life tale of a black athlete who defied racism in '60s America to change the face of a sport
Perhaps the most award-friendly film of 2008 (inspirational sports yarn + Civil Rights issues + killer disease tragedy), Gary Fleder’s biopic falls short of Oscar greatness, but it’s still a solid effort. The predictable plotting etches the true story of Ernie Davis (a winning Brown), an African-American college football star whose career was tragically cut short by leukemia when he was aged 23. Fleder adds nifty ‘60s period detail, vigorously mounts the gridiron action and doesn’t shy from the racial conflicts that marked Davis’ ascent, but his real MVP is Quaid, who adds an intense emotional core as Davis’ mentor. But nothing can disguise the fact that we’ve seen this a million times before.
While never as trailblazing as its subject, The Express is a worthy addition to the lengthy canon of sports biopics