A cliché and utterly predictable sports movie, "Glory Road succeeds as such, but as nothing more. A by-the-book sports movie that throws in plenty of by-the-book racism scenes, by-the-book motivational speeches and your standard underdog team, then you know what to expect. And if you like sports movies in general, you should at least find this one entertaining.
"Glory Road" stars Josh Lucas as coach Don Haskins, who is responsible for assembling the first all-black team (well, all-black starters at least) and lead them to the NCAA championship. While the movie conveniently edits out a few facts about the availability of blacks on other teams to heighten the drama, "Glory Road" essentially follows Lucas through recruiting, training and rise to glory amidst racial tensions and prejudice. All in all, it is "Remember the Titans" only not as good, not about football and not starring Denzel Washington.
Lucas is an actor who I have generally liked but have never loved, and he performs about as expected here - decent but not great. He plays a more subdued coach than most in the sports genre, which some would say is a nice change of pace - I would say it is certainly one of the duller and less inspiring performances compared to some of the greats (Gene Hackman, Kurt Russell, and previously mentioned Washington to name a few).
Lucas is backed by a cast of pretty decent but unknown actors, with exception to Derek Luke who most will recognize. Unfortunately, none of the players get much of a back story; apparently being black when it's not okay to be black is enough to fill a story.
The movie over dramatizes the racial aspect, but does succeed fairly well in the basketball department, which, in reality, is why most people would watch such a movie. Some people have complained that the basketball scenes aren't very compelling, but I found them to be rather exciting, fast-paced and well-done. Some of the camera angles are quite good, and first time director James Gartner does a good job of throwing us into the action.
Amazingly, the movie stumbles in the championship game, as Gartner is never able to attain the level of suspense needed to really pull us into the film. It doesn't help that the game doesn't end up very close at the end, at least in terms of how sports movies usually go (down to the buzzer shots, etc.).
"Glory Road" is a decent but unmemorable sports movie that delivers some good action but begs the question why you should watch this one when you can watch something better, like "Hoosiers." Recommended for die-hard sports fans.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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