An intimate look at the game of football, the gladiators, the business men and the effect it has on people.
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In the world of a fictitious league known as the Associated Football Franchises of America (AFFA) this film profiles a team called the Miami Sharks. They were a team that once was one of greatness, now in turmoil their woes become higher and higher hurtles to jump.
Al Pachino plays coach Tony D'Amato, a two time championship winner and legend to the city of Miami. He has since lost his edge and fears he is losing his team and all things important to him. D'Amato has to deal with his own demons in his personal life, but on the field he has to deal with his veteran quarterback Jack “Cap” Rooney (Dennis Quaid) going down with a back injury with a few weeks to go in the season and a playoff birth a possibility. He also has to deal with a 12 year concussion case linebacker whose main concern is his $1 million bonus, who D'Amato desperately needs alive to be a leader and a presence, not a corpse. He also has an all star running back who is concerned with his stats and bonuses and the cherry on the ego sundae is his third string quarterback “Steamin” Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) whose jump into the lime light was a shock to the teams well being and his season. As Beamen looks more impressive his ego and mouth grows bigger and leads him into dangerous ground that tears the fabric of the team apart. The final thorn in Pachino's side is Christina Pagniacci ( Diaz). She is the headstrong young lady who takes over the team after her father who was the architect of the team passed away. She was only concerned about money, and big business, and the fact that football is played on the field and not in the skybox left her, even though growing up she knew more about the game of football than most guys.
This film is one of the best sports films of all time. It takes you deep into the game of football, beyond the on field antics. It takes you into the locker room, in the owners box, and behind closed doors that you would never see. The injuries., the drugs, the politics, the inter office relationships and turmoil. You really see how football can take over peoples lives and how it does it.
Stone's gritty camera work takes you into the trenches and really shows just how rough football is and gives a strong sense of realism. Combined that with the terrific editing both picture and sound that showcases something so brutal it seems realer than an actual game of football.
Pachino is terrific as the angry, bitter and drunk old coach. He is a throw back to old coaches of old such as Vince Lumbardi, Tom Landry, and Paul Brown. His voice, his face and rage shows a man that has really let the game drag his life right down and show its ware. Pachino was backed by an all star cast, Jamie foxx really flexed his dramatic muscles, the stand off he has with Pachino is nothing short of brilliant. Quaid was also very good as the old vet , along side Woods, Modine, Eckhart and Diaz who were all outstanding. They each had gut check moments of morality and who they were as a person, along side their own agenda. But they were also asking to themselves would they let the game change them and be swayed by money or politics or would they stay strong .
It is just a fantastic film and is a grossly under rated film. It really gives respect to professionals and what players put themselves through every Sunday. Stone added another great film to his already amazing filmography. With a powerful cast and Stone's always heavy handed but interesting storytelling techniques this film made you feel like you were knocked around for four quarters and came out a little battered and bruised.