Featuring an intense and surprisingly strong performance from Rob Brown, The Express soars beyond my wildest expectations as it presents a story that is creative, controlled and most importantly, true to form. When audiences are itching for action, the film somehow always provides; but more than the action itself, the film possesses a story that is so detrimental to the way that we all look at life, that it is a shame that it has taken this long for it to make its way to the big screen.
As the film starts out, we are introduced to a young Ernie Davis as he struggles through the daily life, making ends meet and becoming satisfied with the smallest of things. But just as quickly, we are transported in time, fast-forwarding several years to see Jim Brown (Syracuse’s recent star graduate) work to get Davis to sign with his alma mater. And the rest seems to fall into place.
Featuring a strong ensemble of relative unknown actors, The Express is highlighted by a near flawless performance by Rob Brown. Through his motions and interactions with the rest of the cast, Brown is able to offer the audience an unprecedented amount of precision, heart and determination. Together, these three characteristics come together fluidly, resulting in the conscious and evenly-displayed football legend.
In addition, Dennis Quaid gives a decent, thought transparent performance as Syracuse coach, Ben Schwartzwalder. Though never fully understanding his star player, Schwartzwalder has always been a man who appears to accept change, wanting to win more than anything else, and always willing to do whatever it takes to get the victory. But with Brown, a new challenge has suddenly taken center stage as he must learn to balance the politics that continue to surface both on and off the field with his personal feelings.
Though an obvious supporting star, Quaid does well to fit the role as he lets his actions speak much louder than his words. Together, both Quaid and Brown make a solid team as they represent two complete opposites who must somehow ban together to fight the ultimate fight, knowing that win or lose, they are in this one together.
But more than the actors or their performances, The Express thrives on its story. Telling of a boy, who grew up with no benefits or ease, and showing how he lived out his wildest imaginations, the film is able to covey a strong and powerful message to all those watching. And while many films have come out concerning sports, race and the power of change; The Express is a bit different as it concentrates on the battles that occurred for Davis off the field. For when the game is over, you realize that it is nothing more than a game. Win or lose, you are still here living in the moment. But for Davis, the game meant so much more. Fortunately for us, he lived in a time when he could help break down barriers and bring a wave of support and knowledge on an otherwise unknown topic.
The film is an amazing triumph. As a result, it is one that should not be missed.