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Any Given Sunday Review

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Al Pacino's gung-ho football coach must pull an American football team out of their league table tailspin.

★★★★

"Listen up team, this is the play. Us white guys are gonna blast through the middle with a mixture of youthful machismo and world-weary substance-fuelled middle-aged angst. And all the action's gonna be captured on a frenetically-edited range of different film stocks! Got that? Hup! Hup! Hup!..."

Okay, so it's easy to make fun of Oliver Stone, but then, the guy does keep on making basically the same movie. This time the subject is the brutal world of fictitious American football team the Miami Sharks. Possibly the most "Oliver-Stoney" Oliver Stone movie to date, Pacino essentially plays the director himself, as a hard-drinking football coach who must reverse the Sharks' losing streak, while the predictably underwritten ice maiden comes in the form of Diaz' ball-breaking club owner.

One of the film's principal critiques of the game is that, while most of the players are black, the people in control are white. Of course, this would have had more substance were it not for the fact that the best lines go to Pacino and James Woods, the latter plumbing new depths as the team's drug-dispensing doctor.

Yet, despite the film's multifarious faults, which also include a truly rotten cameo from Stone himself as a sports commentator, there can be no argument that this is one of the most visually exciting experiences you will have this year, as the audience is dragged so close to the action that it is possible to hear every grunt, feel every injury and almost taste every drop of spilt blood.

The timidly-disposed in the audience will be praying for a time out long before that climactic impossible-to-win game rolls around. It hardly needs pointing out that they will be doing so in vain.

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