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The Express crosses the goal line as an inspirational sports drama, although fans of the genre will recognize many -- if not most -- of its clichés. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University's football program. Under the guidance of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), Davis becomes one of the school's best players, even surpassing Jim Brown's achievements. In 1961 Davis becomes the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, but there is one more obstacle in his life that he must overcome.

Cast & Crew

Dennis Quaid
Ben Schwartzwalder
Rob Brown
Ernie Davis
Clancy Brown
Roy Simmons
Omar Miller
Jack Buckley
Charles S. Dutton
Willie 'Pops' Davis
Nelsan Ellis
Will Davis Jr.
Charles Leavitt
Screenwriter
Derek Dauchy
Executive Producer
Arne L. Schmidt
Executive Producer
Mark Isham
Original Music
Kramer Morgenthau
Cinematographer
Padraic McKinley
Film Editor
William Steinkamp
Film Editor
Nelson Coates
Production Design
Seth Reed
Art Director
Denise Pizzini
Set Decoration
Abigail Murray
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for The Express

Critic Reviews for The Express

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (46)

  • While never as trailblazing as its subject, The Express is a worthy addition to the lengthy canon of sports biopics.

    December 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The sports-movie template is capable of absorbing any story and delivering the same uplift.

    December 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…
  • Full of stirring speeches and manly chins quivering with emotion, every frame is a cliché.

    December 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Gary Fleder's sporting drama has its heart in the right place but, sheesh, that title grows more ironic with each crawling minute.

    December 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A tidal wave of corn syrup hardly mars this old-style, populist entertainment.

    December 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Steams ahead with express-train determination, scooping on to its cow-catcher any cinemagoer hoping he can outrun yet another true-life drama about black sportsmen overcoming bygone bigotry.

    December 5, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Express

  • Oct 10, 2012
    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 P Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2010
    Though the production value is very good the coverage of the story is follows in the footsteps of every other Sports/Racism Movie around. Not to take anything away from Ernie Davis great achievement the movie is very accurate to his winning the Heisman trophy. The epic scene where Ernie Davis comes out to play with a torn hamstring to show the racist white crowd how he can win. Dennis Quaid really doesn’t fit the bill as a Football coach who’s Jewish and he’s supposed to be crusty? HBO will show it a thousand times and I’m sure you’ll run into it.
    Bill C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2010
    What surprised your reviewer the most about The Express was not how the well played ending still came as a shock even though its particulars were already known, but how this drama rose above the countless other race-related sports flicks. Indeed, such a film had pretty much the same playing field to cover as Remember the Titans, Glory Road, and Pride—all recent flicks that are also based on real events. But it does so in an amazingly fresh fashion, doling out a story so emotionally stirring that it does not plod along like a Movie-of-the-Week but as an original underdog tale. And yes, there are times when it swoons a bit too much to its own dramatic strains, but such are the trappings of a true crowd-pleaser. In the PG-13-rated The Express, Syracuse running back Ernie Davis (Brown) overcomes adversity and racism to become the first African-American to receive the Heisman Trophy. Director Gary Fleder, who is known more for crafting thrillers (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury) than heart-tugging drama, paints the ‘60s on an amazingly palpable palette. It helps that he has assembled a letter-prefect cast to pull it off. Brown embodies the winning personality of Davis to great effect. And though he is no stranger to sports dramas as a player (Everybody’s All American, The Rookie), Quaid assumes the humbling mantle of cantankerous coach like a true pro, giving the film many of its most memorable scenes. At times, the action- backed by a oftentimes overpowering soundtrack -comes off a tad over-dramatic. Regardless, The Express still packs a wallop. Bottom line: Touchdown.
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2010
    This was a very good movie - the cast was good (including Lafayette from True Blood!), and it was very inspirational! I wasn't expecting the ending, since I had never heard of Ernie Davis until this movie, but now I know why.
    Erin C Super Reviewer

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