Director: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nichole Beharie, Alan Tudyk, Andre Holland, Christopher Meloni
It’s not the greatest sports-drama movie of all-time, but 42 may be one of the more inspiring in recent years.
Based on the true story of Jackie Robinson, the flick follows his tumultuous path in becoming Major League baseball’s first African-American player. While his talent was undeniable, the color of his skin is the only thing the majority of players and fans noticed and cared about back in the late 1940s.
Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) served our country in a war and lettered in four sports while at UCLA. He now finds himself playing in the minor league baseball circuit which is about the only place black athletes could play the sport on a professional level. But when respected Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides to go against the national grain and bring up Robinson to his team, he puts himself and Robinson on a testy, and at times, dangerous stage.
The first 10-15 minutes are choppy and feels like just a montage of well-choreographed scenes. And that results in the storytelling feeling kind of cliff-note-ish. But when it finds it stride, the entrancing chronicle of the obstacles Robinson had to deal with becomes fluid and focused.
Right off the bat (no pun), one will notice, and some may be surprised, how incredible Harrison Ford is as the old-school owner/businessman. It’s tempting to say he’s doing his best acting, uh, ever. Seeing Ford in a character-actor’s role is something you wish he did more often. While the main character Robinson steals a plethora of bases during the in-game sequences, Ford quite possibly steals the show numerous times over. But don’t read too much into that, for Boseman can carry the load whether it’s during the on-field scenes or off the field, as he deals with relentless racist attacks from teammates, opposing players (Alan Tudyk is so good you will hate him) and/or fans.
Speaking of, if hearing the derogatory N-word offends you, this may strike (again, no pun intended) a nerve. It is blasted all over the script as the filmmakers want to properly depict the authentic atmosphere Robinson had to deal with on a daily basis. And like most movies that tackle this subject, it makes you wonder just how ignorant mankind was back then. So yeah, you will get emotionally pulled into this thanks to the splendid acting and fearless writing.
Overall, 42 swings wildly (pun intended) during the opening but when it adjust its stance, its precision timing makes this a homerun.
And that concludes the overuse of analogies to the sport I hate to watch.