The Express


The Express

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 118


Audience Score

User Ratings: 820,195
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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, Rovi


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
Nicole Beharie
as Sarah Ward
Geoff Stults
as Bob Lundy
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News & Interviews for The Express

Critic Reviews for The Express

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (46)

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

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Full of stirring speeches and manly chins quivering with emotion, every frame is a cliché.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Gary Fleder's sporting drama has its heart in the right place but, sheesh, that title grows more ironic with each crawling minute.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Xan Brooks

    Top Critic
  • Rob Brown did a nice job.

    Nov 10, 2008
  • Football fan or not, definitely be sure to see it.

    Nov 10, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2/4

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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