Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Draft Day’ Review: Starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner & Denis Leary

It’s really almost impossible for me not to like a Kevin Costner film. Earlier this year the action-thriller 3 Days to Kill didn’t sit well with most critics, but you can’t deny that Costner was an excellent lead. The 59-year-old actor has done practically every film genre and in Draft Day, he plays an NFL general manager, who is battling problems at work and in his personal life.

Draft Day is clearly geared towards football diehards and fanatics, so if you aren’t as submersed in the sport, the film may be a tad confusing in the first half. It’s the second half that really picks up, thanks to Costner and the fantastic Jennifer Garner.

Hours before the NFL draft day, Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) takes a risk by trading the number one pick in hopes to rebuild his football team. This sparks controversy with Browns Coach Penn (Denis Leary), owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), Browns’ accountant and Sonny’s sorta-girlfriend Ali (Jennifer garner) and several of the fans in Cleveland. Living in his late father’s shadow, Sonny believes that what he is doing is for the ultimate good of the football team, as long as he plays his cards right on Draft Day.

Kevin Costner is one of those actors that is enjoyable to watch in anything and its he who barely saves the first half of the film from being a complete bore-fest. The first half feels like an overlong infomercial for the NFL, unless you’re maybe a fan of the Cleveland Browns? There’s also a crappy joke about rookie quarterbacks, and excuse me, but I’m pretty sure that was geared at DC’s own RGIII. What a bunch of malarkey.

At first Jennifer Garner seems to be a bit miscast as Costner’s love interest, but as the film goes on, she’s the saving grace for the female viewers watching the movie. (Well Tom Welling has a semi-shirtless scene later, so there’s that too.) Garner pulls off the once law student turned numbers-crunching NFL gal and we believe that she would go for a more mature man like Sonny. She’s also an educated, no-BS type of girl who can clearly handle her way around a bunch of men.

There are a lot of telephone conversations in the film, mainly between Sonny and other NFL team owners so director Ivan Reitman (2011’s No Strings Attached) used several split-screen edits to handle the calls. Normally, this would be ok, but it ended up distracting the viewer from the story and became annoying over time. One frame would bleed over into the next and it’s hard to tell what Reitman and the editors had in mind while piecing the film together.

Coming from someone who doesn’t particularly care for the subject matter, at first Draft Day comes off as slow and pointless but engage the viewer more in the second half. Costner and Garner deliver wonderful performances that lift the film in its second half.

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