Not the worst film of the year –
April 24 2020 – The template is too familiar: a star athlete of yore, Affleck’s careworn Jack Cunningham gets a second shot at glory when he is asked to coach his alma mater’s hopeless team out of their losing streak. He halfheartedly accepts, building up the squad with a growing enthusiasm (and an amusingly unwelcome foul mouth), like ‘The Damned United’s vigorous Brian Clough. Except his non-stop drinking persists, confirming the worst fears of the school’s well-meaning staff, Jack’s critical sister and gently concerned ex (Michaela Watkins and Janina Gavankar, both underused).
‘From the director of “The Accountant”’ is hardly a ringing endorsement – that mind-numbing action-thriller was also an Affleck-starrer – but Brad Ingelsby’s screenplay is the film’s guiltiest instrument, shortchanging even the most conventional pleasures of a redemption-themed sports film. For starters, the young players never rise above tired clichés: there’s a joker, a ladies’ man, a bandana-wearing White Shadow, an immense talent with a harshly disapproving parent and so on. We crave a richer narrative of mutual growth between this ramshackle bunch and their troubled leader but we’re served only scraps.