At Quality 16 and Showcase
2 out of 5 stars
If you don’t change the channel when you see a Nike commercial appear on your TV screen, then “The Express” is the perfect movie for you. While not the worst movie in the world, it’s still the same reliable football film that comes out every fall.
Starring Rob Brown (“Finding Forrester) and Dennis Quaid (“Vantage Point”), the movie tells the story of Ernie Davis, a black football player at Syracuse in the early ’60s who crosses the color barrier and goes on to become the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy. His dreams of playing for the NFL, though, are thwarted by the inevitable tragedy. Surprised?
The premise of the film is nothing new, and the evolution of the theme of racial acceptance is very similar to movies such as “Remember the Titans” and “Glory Road.” The movie is entertaining and does catch some of the rah-rah spirit of a football game, but the problem is that the actors have far too many motivational speeches to deliver, and this cuts in to the overall flow of the film. Brown’s depiction of Davis, as well as Quaid’s role as Ben Schwartzwalder, come off as rather one-dimensional – they have no flaws, make no mistakes and always step in at just the right moment.
“The Express” does do a good job of working in the historical context, and it’s worth it to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual motivational speeches in the movie, because the ones written for the film just don’t cut it.