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Gridiron Gang

Running alongside the closing credits is a series of clips from the 1993 documentary that provided the basis for this drama about a football team at a Los Angeles juvenile detention centre. The real people say and do the same things we just saw actors say and do, only in a stripped-down, matter-of-fact manner without the swelling of bombastic music to accompany every feel-good or poignant moment. Those final few moments are more powerful than anything we saw during the previous two hours, simply because they don’t try so hard to be.

Former television and music video director Phil Joanou is relentless in his attempts to inspire us, but the result is just overbearing and redundant. The football scenes themselves, though, are sufficiently visceral in their bone-crunching intensity. And Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson exudes his usual natural magnetism as the probation officer turned coach. (Not once does he try to wring a laugh out of raising that famous eyebrow of his.)

Reviewed by Christy Lemire, AP