Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Kate Mara, Anthony Mackie, David Strathairn, Ian McShane, January Jones, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Arlen Escarpeta, Brian Geraghty,
Genre: Drama, Sport
Age Rating: PG/G
Running Time: 131 Minutes
On Monday I finally had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate another emotional true sports story.
Directed by ONE TREE HILL’s McG, WE ARE MARSHALL tells the tragic yet uplifting tale of the Virginia based Marshall University American football team who lost their lives in a freak plane crash in 1970 and the team of coaches and players who helped bring a community back together and overcome the heart-breaking accident of unimaginable proportions to once again field a team and compete in the country’s national university leagues.
Brilliantly narrated by Kate Mara from start to finish, playing the girlfriend of one of the young men who lost their lives on board Southern Airways Flight 932, the story is told in an eerie yet motivational way, where negative and upset characters are inspired once again by motivational and passionate ones like Matthew McConaughey’s Coach Jack Lengyel, and Anthony Mackie’s defensive back and co-captain Nate Ruffin.
Although the concept of this film essentially does not have any leads, as it is a story about an outstanding community, as a film there needs to be a lead actor and Matthew McConaughey once again puts in a stellar performance. He is the life and soul of this story and his character’s bizarre approach to coaching and people in general helps bring smiles to the viewers face. Equally, Matthew Fox’s performance alone is something to smile about. 2006 would have been when Fox was at the peak of his LOST career and it shows with his incredibly moving performance as the team’s assistant coach who was fortunate enough to not be on the plane that crashed, but faces a tough personal battle throughout to actually step out on that field and coach again for a team he has lost.
This film is not only wonderfully shot, capturing the essence of 1970s American suburbia, but it truly portrays the mixture of emotions that would have existed in this community following the plane crash, and the personal anguish that many close family members and friends experienced and perhaps still do today.
Unlike any other great sports true story, WE ARE MARSHALL surprisingly shows to its viewers that winning is not always everything in football and how sometimes taking part can be far more important than a record sheet could ever be. It is this which made the film such a refreshing tale instead of an over-Americanised tale of glory (which I am guilty of loving by the way…). In terms of American football films based on true stories or derived from true events, personally, it is not as great as REMEMBER THE TITANS, but it is on par with THE EXPRESS and still a great film to watch. I am however yet to watch INVINCIBLE with Mark Wahlberg so I am yet to make a full comparison.
“From the ashes we rose.”
Recommendation: WE ARE MARSHALL is worth your time and worth your money. A DVD purchase is recommended at least, but obviously if it pops up on Netflix or Amazon it is definitely worth a watch as soon as you can.