The Express (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Express (2008)



Critic Consensus: This inspirational sports biopic set in the the civil rights era is interesting even for non-football fans, and features a great performance by Dennis Quaid as tough-but-fair football coach.

Movie Info

Finding Forrester star Rob Brown steps into the cleats of Heisman Trophy-winning gridiron giant Ernie Davis in director Gary Fleder's inspirational sports docudrama. As a young boy reared not far from the northern Pennsylvania state line, Davis dreamed of blasting through the end zone and scoring a triumphant touchdown while fans rose to their feet and cheered. When Davis later became a star running back for the Syracuse Orangemen, his dreams were finally on the way to becoming a reality. Under the wing of coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), it seemed as if there is nothing that could stop Davis from entering into the annals of sports history; even during an era in which the civil rights movement was just gaining momentum, this fledgling gridiron giant never once doubted his ability to rise to the top. When Davis was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after being drafted into the NFL, however, his will to survive soon eclipsed his dreams of success. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovimore
Rating: PG (for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Lee Hancock, Jeffrey Lieber, Scott Williams, Charles Leavitt
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 20, 2009
Box Office: $9.6M
Universal Pictures - Official Site


Dennis Quaid
as Ben Schwartzwalder
Rob Brown (VI)
as Ernie Davis
Clancy Brown
as Roy Simmons Sr.
Charles S. Dutton
as Willie 'Pops' Davis
Omar Benson Miller
as Jack Buckley
Justin Martin
as Young Ernie
Saul Rubinek
as Art Modell
Geoff Stults
as Bob Lundy
Nicole Beharie
as Sarah Ward
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Express

Critic Reviews for The Express

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (34)

The sports-movie template is capable of absorbing any story and delivering the same uplift.

Full Review… | December 5, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

Rob Brown did a nice job.

Full Review… | November 10, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

Football fan or not, definitely be sure to see it.

Full Review… | November 10, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

The film does the job, in its conventional way. But it's geared to throw the prime screen time in the direction of the guy playing the guy coaching the guy who's supposed to be running the movie.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Despite appealing performances and kinetic football scenes, the storytelling is mostly conventional, except for two outstanding set pieces.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
USA Today
Top Critic

It makes the most of its on-the-field drama, but it tends toward gross generalizations and oversentimentality. ... As a result, the film is burdened with hokiness.

Full Review… | October 23, 2009

Audience Reviews for The Express


A surprisingly enjoyable movie, and one that - I think - got lost among a great many football movies, primarily Remember the Titans, Any Given Sunday (in which Dennis Quaid also plays a coach...) and Friday Night Lights. These three aren't the comparables, though; if anything, put this one beside Rudy. It's an underdog story that's a bit formulaic but very well set in its moment, and it tells of a very human experience: though it's about racism - Davis being the first black player to win the Heisman trophy - it's not too heavy-handed, and it's just as much about football, and built on a deep love and understanding of the game. I recommend seeing it once.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


Another well made true factual sporting film about an all star black American football star in the 50's/60's when racism was a very hot cookie in the States. The whole story, even though its true, isn't very original hehe they do tend to be all the same really,
A poor boy having a hard time growing up as an outcast makes it good in the world of pro football due to his natural athletic abilities, wins over many peoples hearts and support but dies young from natural causes, missing his chance to really make his mark in the world.

I have seen many good sporting films and they are always in the same vein, true or not, but they do seem to turn out well made and always make you feel good at the end or make you think, which is good. This film is no exception, its very very well made, looks really authentic capturing the era and problems of the time, has a great timeless soundtrack, little nuggets of real footage from the actual games and tugs at your heart strings throughout. It is predictable like all sport flicks but the fact its based on true events does make you ignore that, well you have to ignore that.

The cast are all excellent, Quaid is good as the tough supportive coach and Brown is very good as Davis showing real love in his role, Dutton as Davis father is also very good in his short role adding real class to the whole film.

I have to admit Americans sure know how to make a good sporting flick about their beloved national games, although Baseball doesn't fare as well as Football.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Although 'The Express' doesn't live up to the standards of movies such as 'Remember the Titans' but it manages to keep viewers excited and thrilled. Its talented cast manages to pull of the inspirational characters.

Jason Lalljee
Jason Lalljee

Super Reviewer

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