Gridiron Gang

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The Rock plays a counsellor at a detention centre who forms his charges into an American football team. They go on to considerable success, learning self-respect and self-confidence along the way.


The track record for wrestlers-turned-actors ain’t great; Hulk Hogan, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and, faring slightly better, the late Andre The Giant. Pleasant surprise, then, that The Rock, only ever expected to aim for Arnie’s action crown, makes a very decent fist of ‘proper acting’.

For the first half of this true story (inspirational coach Sean Porter turns LA juvenile detention kids into a football team), director Phil Joanou avoids the usual banalities. But in the home stretch, the star’s huge shoulders have to bear the burden of every sports-movie cliché in the book. Happily, the conviction of his performance just about carries everyone over the line.

What begins as a series of pleasant revelations and a deft example of genre defiance is nearly crippled by cliche in its second half, but The Rock's surprising dramatic magnetism will hold you until the final whistle.