Movie Review: The Express (2008)

Starring: Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid and Omar Benson Miller

Directed by: Gary Fleder

An inspirational drama based on the short life of college football legend Ernie Davis, the first African-American winner of the coveted Heisman Trophy.

I don’t think I’ve watched any this year but I am a huge fan of inspiring sporting movies that are based on true events. Some of my favourite movies include the likes of Coach Carter, Remember the Titans and The Blind Side amongst other inspiring stories that show remarkable the human spirit can be as sports people and/or teams can come through great adversity to succeed and its that kind of determination and dedication that I love seeing brought to the big screen. The Express is the story of Ernie Davis, a man I knew nothing of prior to watching the movie, who was a college football hero and the first ever African-American to win the coveted Heisman Trophy but his career and journey to the NFL was cut drastically short when he was diagnosed with leukaemia before he was able to play a professional game in the big league.

Rob Brown plays Ernie Davis and is sensational in the role and is an actor that I’d like to see more from but he isn’t churning out film after film like some people do in Hollywood and his roles appear to be very selective. He coincidentally featured in any sporting favourite of mine, Coach Carter, which he was also excellent in and biographical sporting movies seem to be where he thrives the most. He was joined on screen by veteran actor Dennis Quaid who plays college football coach Ben Schwartzwalder and the combination of Quaid and Brown is superb as they both play off each other incredibly well. I feel the story of Ernie Davis was told with great respect to the man who lived an incredible yet short life where he was able to break down so many barriers for African-Americans trying to get involved in college sports.

The story was dramatic and tense at times but the outstanding character of the man always shone through as he strived for success and acknowledgement. The football action was well filmed and put together as Davis tore through the defence of each team he played despite reservations from his coach. I also liked the comedy that was used sporadically through the film as it helped eased some of the tension and Rob Brown’s interactions with Omar Benson Miller, who played teammate JB, were particularly enjoyable.

Overall, The Express was a very dramatic and inspiring movie that told a fantastic story as it highlighted the severity of America’s racism problem which was only a short 60 years ago. I would highly recommend this film if you enjoy watching true sporting biopics that tell a tremendous underdog story.


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