Anthony's Film Review
Draft Day (2014)
A sports drama film with Kevin Costner that is unfortunately a bit slow and disjointed...
When it comes to watching certain sports, my interest is limited to observing them on a superficial level. I'm not the kind of person who likes to, or is even able to, analyze individual athletes' performances or team dynamics in detail. Plus, I pretty much have no interest in annual sports drafting events where all teams of a league recruit new players from college athletic programs. Yet, there was something intriguing about the trailer for the 2014 film Draft Day, about a National Football League (NFL) draft. Maybe it's my curiosity of something I don't know much about because I have no interest in it, or perhaps it's the fact that there aren't too many movies depicting many NFL teams, not just one. In any event, I decided to check out Draft Day just to understand the sports world in greater depth.
So this movie is about a fictional NFL Draft. How do I know it's fictional? Because it is set in early May 2014, about one month after this film was released. The film begins with a conversation between an executive for the Seattle Seahawks and the general manager for the Cleveland Browns, the latter named Sonny Weaver Jr. The two men are discussing a deal not too long before the NFL Draft is officially underway. (Before I go on, let me point out two interesting things. One, the Seattle Seahawks won their first-ever Super Bowl in February 2014, which makes me wonder if the filmmakers of Draft Day predicted this beforehand. Two, the Cleveland Browns in real life have not been league champions in a very long time, such that The Tonight's Show's Jay Leno would enjoy poking fun at that team.)
Anyway, the movie takes place on the first day of the NFL Draft, specifically the 15 hours before it and the first few hours of the draft itself. Weaver, played by Kevin Costner, converses with managers from various NFL teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Texans. He is focused on a plan that involves giving up first-round draft picks for the next three years to another team just to be able to draft one particular athlete. There is drama as three different football players are hoping to be the #1 pick for the Cleveland Browns, and as Cleveland Browns staff worry that Weaver's strategy will be a blunder. Then there's a bit of stuff with his pregnant girlfriend and colleague, played by Jennifer Garner, and Weaver's mother, all of which are not necessary for this film in my opinion.
And this is where I address the big flaw of this movie. Simply put, there are moments of interest, but they don't feel as connected as one might hope. Yes, it's all part of one story, but the story feels disjointed rather than being one smooth narrative. To be fair, there are two good things about the movie. One is the acting, which gives all the sports-related dialogue some authenticity. The second is the use of split screens to present simultaneous events and telephone conversations between characters. Sometimes, the split screen border moves so that one character appears to walk in front of the other split screen, then back into his own scene, on the other side of the screen we're watching.
Still, I was ready to rate this movie a 5 out of 10 about two-thirds of the way into the movie. The last part of the movie, taking place during the NFL Draft, was more interesting, though not by a longshot. We get to see Weaver's confidence in making controversial decisions that may not be too bad after all, especially when the team currently making a pick has 10 minutes to do so. There's a bit of suspense as team executives must think hard and pick a player before time is up. As interesting as it is, it's nowhere near as exciting as the sports business talk in the 2011 baseball movie Moneyball.
So with that, I'm giving Draft Day a 5/10, at a point that is barely lower than the line between a 5 and a 6. It's great if you are a die-hard sports fan (especially a football fan, as most, if not all, NFL teams are seen in this movie somewhere, even if it's just the start of the closing credits) and just OK to not OK if you're not even a casual sports fan. Essentially, the movie is like any actual NFL Draft, appealing mainly to the biggest American football enthusiasts. For the rest of us, we're better off just watching an NFL game on television.
For more information about Draft Day, visit the Internet Movie Database.