VOD film review: Draft Day
Andrew Jones | On 03, Oct 2014
Director: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Dennis Leary
Watch Draft Day online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV
Ivan Reitman’s recent spate of films has hardly been must-see viewing. My Super Ex-Girlfriend. No Strings Attached. These aren’t the kinds of films that make you go “Wow, what a great resume from the man behind Ghostbusters and Evolution!” So it’s perhaps no surprise that Draft Day is rarely effective, and even less entertaining throughout its runtime.
Kevin Costner is Sonny Weaver Jr., GM at the Cleveland Browns, who has just been told that his secret girlfriend Ali (Garner) is pregnant as his big day begins. The Browns’ owner, Anthony, (Frank Langella), who opts never to take off his sunglasses, tells Weaver that if he doesn’t make a big splash with his draft choices this year, no one will be going to their games, and Weaver will be out of a job.
Weaver’s just lost his father, the former respected coach of the Browns, and has a lot of pressure to hire a young player recently involved in a criminal attack – making this a well-timed film to deal with the issue of NFL teams overlooking violence because the players involved are of such high quality. More importantly, though, the Seattle Seahawks are trying to make a deal with the Browns to get first draft slots for the next three years in exchange for the first pick of the best player in the draft, but Weaver is suddenly unsure if the best player is actually the best player.
If anything in that last sentence makes sense, then you might be in the target audience for Draft Day. Everything is tightly wound around the concept of the NFL draft; numbers are chucked out like they have meaning but every time you start to get your head around it, more elements are thrown in. This detailed plotting is baffling for non-fans looking for a fun, entertaining piece of cinema. Because it is inherently a film about the NFL draft, the brief moments about Weaver’s personal life are too fleeting to get to grips with.
Reitman’s visual style is an equally bizarre choice, with many fake borders used to wipe between shots, split-screens and titles within frames. It’s akin to son Jason’s opening titles for Up In The Air, but Draft Day does this all the way through; sometimes during phone calls, one side of the split-screen walks across the entire frame. It is utterly bewildering, not quite cool and modern yet not quite refreshing and old school.
Costner and Chadwick Boseman have both been in great films about America’s other big outdoor sport, baseball – see Field Of Dreams, Bull Durham and 42 – but because there’s little else in the film besides draft politics, Draft Day is mostly indecipherable for anyone who isn’t a big fan. TV sitcom The League shows that it is possible to reach across that divide, but Draft Day is a damp squib that never really feels enjoyable.
Draft Day is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.