High Flying Bird

Critics Consensus

High Flying Bird takes a thoughtful and engrossing look at professional sports that sees Steven Soderbergh continuing to test the limits of new filmmaking technology.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 98

53%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 248

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

53%
Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

In the midst of a pro basketball lockout, sports agent Ray Burke (André Holland) finds himself caught in the face-off between the league and the players. His career is on the line, but Ray is playing for higher stakes. With only 72 hours to pull off a daring plan, he outmaneuvers all the power-players as he uncovers a loophole that could change the game forever. The outcome raises questions of who owns the game -- and who ought to. Directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) from a script by Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), HIGH FLYING BIRD features an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Bill Duke, plus appearances from NBA athletes Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Donovan Mitchell.

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Critic Reviews for High Flying Bird

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (21)

  • High Flying Bird is a heady movie, full of political thought about sport, entertainment, race and power. Rather than float on production value, it sustains itself on the tension of ideas, exchanged rapid-fire in gleaming office towers.

    Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The film's dense but fast-moving script, is also replete with references to the game's history - not least to the currents of protest and politics that have coursed through pro basketball since it was segregated.

    Feb 13, 2019 | Full Review…
  • A wordy, witty and at times impenetrable basketball drama.

    Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Ed Potton

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Soderbergh has made a film about disruption that also aims to disrupt.

    Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a slick story with a slick look to match. He shoots, he scores.

    Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • The power, the movie says, belongs to the players - and to paradigm-skewing artists looking to stir shit up.

    Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for High Flying Bird

½

Iâ(TM)ve been a fan of director Steven Soderberghâ(TM)s work for years. His style is very specific and I wouldnâ(TM)t be surprised if heâ(TM)s lost some of his fans over the past few years, due to the fact that heâ(TM)s absolutely let his style run away with him. Other than Moneyball, there have been very few films about behind the scenes aspects of a sport that have left a lasting impact on me. I will definitely remember certain aspects of High Flying Bird, but itâ(TM)s not the direction that impressed me all that much. Letâ(TM)s dive into one of Netflixâ(TM)s latest feature films. Shot entirely on an iPhone, High Flying Bird follows the true story of how an agent shopped a rookie around during the NBA lockout. While being a little shady, this leads to troubling times for some of the people involved. With a sharp script to back this story up, I found myself incredibly enthralled each and every time two or more characters were conversing in a room together. The highlight of this film is easily the screenplay written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Only having a previous credit for the story of the film Moonlight, after watching High Flying Bird, I feel confident in making the leap and calling McCraney a writer to seek out in the future. I will be looking forward to anything he puts his hands on because the quick dialogue nearly reminded me of an Aaron Sorkin script. For that reason alone, I was glued to the screen. This may seem biased, but the reason I liked certain aspects of this film so much, is simply due to the fast-paced, witty dialogue. Soderbergh does a great job in the director's chair as always, but the notion of releasing an entire feature film for a wide audience to see, having been shot on an iPhone, is a risky move. Itâ(TM)s not his first try at this, but itâ(TM)s quite noticeable. From the way certain scenes are lit to the way that exposure has yet to be perfected in smartphones, I personally found myself disconnected with the movie as a whole. If it wasnâ(TM)t for the screenplay keeping me hooked on the story, I wouldâ(TM)ve been too distracted by the cinematography here. In the end, High Flying Bird serves as a solid attempt in putting together a film in this way but ultimately doesnâ(TM)t feel right visually. Andrà (C) Holland delivers the best performance Iâ(TM)ve ever seen him give and Melvin Gregg, along with Zazie Beetz, support him very well. Iâ(TM)ll always like the look and style of a Soderbergh film, but this one didnâ(TM)t quite do it for me. Although I was distracted by the overall feel of this movie, the story itself and the dialogue within it, was far superior to anything else. For that reason, I can give this movie a recommendation, but there may be a partial bias within that recommendation.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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