The NFL Draft, in its essence, is a simple game of picking and choosing new players for your team. The players have ranks, history with the game, and they all have the desire to play in the NFL. The teams themselves all get picks each round and the worse your previous season was, the sooner you get to pick. This event, however, is one of the biggest televised events in the U.S. and every fan of every team is hoping that the General Managers make the right picks. No pressure, though.
It’s Draft Day 2014 and the Cleveland Browns GM, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner), has a big decision to make. The team needs to start winning and his job lies in the balance of his picks later in the night. The number one pick, Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), is a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback out of Wisconsin. He’s the obvious choice, but the Seattle Seahawks have the first pick (as they were the worst team, ironically). However, Sonny is conflicted because running back Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) has his heart in the game and Ray Jennings (Arian Foster) is the son of one of Cleveland’s best players. Head coach Penn (Dennis Leary) wants one thing and Sonny wants another. It doesn’t help that the he also just lost his father, former coach of the Browns whom he also fired.
On this day of ultimate stress, Sonny also learns that his girlfriend and budget analyst, Ali (Jennifer Garner), is pregnant with his child. Everything in his world is getting harder and he’s just trying to maintain his sanity and make the right call. Statistics are one thing, but you have to dig deeper to uncover everything about the draft prospects. When Sonny makes a deal with the Seahawks for the number one pick, everyone assumes he’s going to take Bo and the town rejoices. But the night is still young and Sonny is going to examine every player he’s curious about, in order to make the right choice. Winning is good, but at what cost?
Draft Day is NFL sponsored and puts you right in the middle of the chaos. As an NFL fan, you always want the best for your team and who wouldn’t want the number one prospect? This film really highlights the types of deals and detective work that the men and women from the teams do, in order to make the right choices. There’s a lot that people don’t know about this process and it was fascinating to watch it unfold in a stylistic fashion. Director Ivan Reitman has an eye for flashy and fun and he keeps your attention, as you become more invested in the film.
Kevin Costner, veteran actor and film sports star, really carries the team on his back here. His character is so conflicted on this hectic day and Costner handles him with honor and allows him to fail at times. Costner’s attention to detail and his dedication to finding the right player is a joy to behold and he’s one that you can root for. He sees things that others don’t and he knows that a truly great player relies on his heart and passion for the game. He realizes that players can always get better and that you don’t necessarily need to start over with each draft. He works well Garner, who’s a brilliant combination of smart and emotional. She’s trying to maintain her composure, but it’s tough when her baby’s father isn’t giving her complete attention. Their chemistry is often funny and very sweet. Boseman also stands out in the film as the loud-mouthed running back, who also has his head in the right place. He’s hopeful for the draft, but also worries about taking care of his family. It’s those sentimental moments that really draw you into the life of the player.
The editing and look of this film is fantastic. Reitman applies many quick cuts, overlapping scenes, and stylish half-cuts, in order to give you a sense of what life is like for these employees. There are a ton of phone calls that end up splitting the screen down the middle and it’s exhilarating as you watch two General Managers fighting over picks and players. The deals they make are all on them and their decisions stand, so they hope that they’ve made good ones. The panorama shots of different stadiums and their cities are beautiful and seeing the fans react to certain things is always funny, as the 12th men get pretty loud in the film. Given that this film is sponsored by the NFL, tons of the actual reporters and commentators are in the film and they add to a level of authenticity that the film holds. If you don’t follow sports well, you will after seeing this film.
As any movie these days must, there is the love interest portion of the film that distracts you for a little while. There were too many things that went wrong on the day of the draft, just to attempt to add some stress for Costner and the audience. The hidden relationship is fine, but Garner telling Costner that she’s pregnant the night before the draft is just stupid. That, and the fact that she gives him the cold shoulder at work. On top of that, you get another sub-plot about Costner firing his father who recently died and his unsympathetic mother barges in his office and demands that Costner help spread the ashes on the film. In what world would that happen?! It all felt unrealistic and it took away from the fact that this film is about the draft. It’s completely unnecessary and gets very boring.
With all the NFL talent that you have in the film, you’d think that they’d play a bigger part too. When you have Arian Foster (Houston Texans running back) as a potential player, you’d think we’d get to see what he can do. Well, we don’t and instead, we get a story about his possible gang affiliation. When you have Deion Sanders in the film, you’d think we’d get some more commentary from him. Yet again, we only get snippets of him doing some interviewing. There is some game footage in the film that’s fun to watch be analyzed, but it doesn’t last for too long. This film had all of the NFL at its fingertips, but it doesn’t capitalize on all it could have. Had it done so, I think it would have been a more full experience that benefited the film and the audience.
Draft Day is, for the most part, a lot fun for someone who’s a fan of the NFL. I feel that even if you’re not a fan, you can rally behind this film. It’s got a great cast to boot and it explores a lot of the hidden aspects of the draft that make it such a tense process. Football is more brains than you’d think and this film is a testament to that. The film’s general message is also a respectable one that, even though it’s blatantly being shoved in your face, makes you respect the players whom actually care about the game and not just the money. If anything, this film got me even more excited for the 2014-2015 season and I can’t wait for football to start-up again!
Draft Day Trailer