Any Given Sunday Reviews
One of the greatest casts I've ever seen - Al Pacino Is the coach, he is everything an actor can embody in this role. Dennis Quaid is the aging quarterback as he is the aging pitcher in The Rookie. Lauren Holly is the players wife. LT, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Bill Bellamy - who wouldn't believe this is a real team? Charlton Heston, Ann Margaret, Jim Brown, James Woods, Matthew Modine - everyone brings charisma and authenticity. I forgot LT was a real life player, he felt like a genuine actor. And Oliver Stone goes beyond his usual cameo to playing the recurring drunken announcer.
This serves as a precognition to future issues about concussions, drugs, and physical health in the sport, something not as commonly spoken of then, now is everyday conversation. As such, it is far more bold and daring than Concussion.
Every single scene is layered with more than what's on the surface. A distraught coach facing age sees images of WWII. A conversation with the quarterback intercuts echoing voices and Ben-Hur, who turns out the be the commissioner of the the league.
The film assembly is incredible, and it took four editors, probably working day and night, to do it. I love the frequent use of the slow-mo spiraling football, had such texture to it that makes you fetishize the game of football. At the end of the picture, the slow countdown of the clock, seeing the inside of the light board. Stone can feel every detail of this game in his bones, it's an incredible trip.
As Beamen progresses through the season he realizes he must balance all the various pressures that come with being a quarterback. This includes everything from making his receivers happy, understanding the defense, and the pressures of completing plays from both his coach and offensive coordinator. D'Amato has to handle the struggles of his pressing owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), and keep his team together with the rookie quarterback at helm. Wide receivers and Linebackers need and want their stats and credit too, and have to play through injury or at other times be protected from themselves as they try and play when they shouldn't.
Any Given Sunday is a pretty solid football drama. Stone tries to capture all aspects and surrounding elements of football. This includes the game itself, but also the characters and pressures off the field. This includes nothing short of pesky reporters, drugs, selfish players, and many of the other sacrifices that have to be made to keep the team going. The casting of Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor give the film a more realistic and hard-nosed edge to the film. The film is well directed and in a chaotic fashion that tries to match the intensity of the sport. In some cases, he goes a bit far such as the slow-motion rain sequence, or a player losing an eye on the field, but overall Stone does a good job portraying realistic characters and scenarios. The film is a good change of pace from the football comedy, or the traditional biographical football film.
Any Given Sunday is a little too ambitious for Oliver Stone's own good.
I'm not such a big fan of NFL, but I like a good sports movies. But Any Given Sunday is far from good. The problem is that it has a scale too big for it to reach. The fact is that there are good characters in Any Given Sunday, but there is a surplus of them and not all of them are that interesting. There is a central plot and a lot of subplots, but occasionally Oliver Stone fails to make the right elements interesting. For instance, the main story in Any Given Sunday did not appeal to me, but some of the subplots, particularly the one surrounding Dr. Harvey Mandrake. The general story did not feel like it had the heart of a good sports movies and was a little too political for my tastes. The excess of talking and the lack of actual sport in the film rendered flat results. The fact is that Oliver Stone nad John Logan are unable to craft much of an entertaining story for Any Given Sunday, and Oliver Stone gets so caught up in his own self indulgent direction that he is unable to realise how the slow pace of the film and extensive length do no favours to a movie already suffering from a flat and uninspiring sports film. So Any Given Sunday is not an example of him in top form.
Although Any Given Sunday has a decent visual style thanks to some consistently good cinematography and nice scenery as well as some powerful editing, and this shows particularly during the football sequences because everything is choreographed well and filmed to be very entertaining, yet Any Given Sunday is way too focused on talking about the games instead of actually having the characters play them which makes it a thoroughly boring film. I cannot sit through nearly three hours of melodramatic writing without being bored to death, so Any Given Sunday was not a film I could enhoy. It had some nice parts and the football match scenes were executed very well, but the simple fact is that the film is too focused on talking to really soar. If what the characters were discussing was genuinely more entertaining then I could let the problem go, but Any Given Sunday was really just a 162 minute long story recycled from many superior sports movies. For me, Any Given Sunday was not the exhilarating and gritty film that I could have been and was instead just an overly ambitious film which could not honestly pick a path to take and instead skewed off in many directions only to reach a formulaic conclusion. To put it simply, Any Given Sunday is a long, slow and boring film which doesn't really introduce much new to the sports film genre and it doesn't make me a bigger fan of gridiron than I already was. There is no rush, little excitement, and above all, barely any entertainment to justify everything, and if not for the actors, there would have honestly been nothing to keep me watching Any Given Sunday after the first half of the film.
The cast is the only thing in Any Given Sunday that really gives the film any consistent power aside from the musical score and the soundtrack, and in all honesty it was worth watching the film to see them act it all out.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think that Al Pacino is the greatest actor in existence, and even though Any Given Sunday did not entertain me, the lead performance of Al Pacino did. Although he gets stuck with material that is rudimentary and repetitive, he manages to make a compelling effort as the lead because of the way that he just dominates the screen whenever he is present. He gets himself involved deeply in the film and is not afraid to shout his way through things which he does with firm emotional power and dedication to the material, so he turns in another impressive lead effort. Al Pacino is terrific in Any Given Sunday, particularly in his scenes with Jamie Foxx, and so he makes it slightly better.
Jamie Foxx also turns in an impressive performance in Any Given Sunday. From a time before his international recognition for playing Ray Charles in his Academy Award winning performance in Ray, Jamie Foxx portrayed "Steamin" Willy Beamin in Any Given Sunday and did it powerfully. He charged fast with the dedicated power of a football player and delivered his lines with genuine strength and gusto which leads him to a charismatic performance. Jamie Foxx is spot on in Any Given Sunday, and his supporting performance is powerful enough to make his scenes fairly good.
Dennis Quaid is also vibrant in Any Given Sunday. Within the matter of a few scenes he is able to use his emotional power as an actor to snatch the attention of viewers and earn their respect. He grips his character with a powerful tenacity and projects his true acting brilliance into the role very well. Dennis Quaid just continues to impress me.
James Woods is also a great presence in Any Given Sunday. His supporting effort captures his natural charisma and instantly makes him an entertaining screen presence which he manages to keep consistent during the brief time he is one screen. His supporting role is small, yet it is pivotal because his character contributes enough to the story to make it slightly more interesting. James Woods is terrific in Any Given Sunday.
Cameron Diaz also delivers a powerful dramatic performance, and Matthew Modine did his part well.
But despite a dedicated cast, Any Given Sunday is nothing but an overly long and slow film which spends more time talking about football than it does actually playing it.