We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall

**1/2

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Considering he's known for Charlie's Angles and Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle (love to know what a third would be called) directing a sports movie is a bit of a change of pace for the uniquely-named McG. And given that it's also a tear-jerking sports movie in which things don't blow up, it's a real change of pace. Then consider that's it's also a true story (not just 'based on...' or 'inspired by...') and you have a different ball game altogether...

Following the real-life story, a plane crash kills the players, staff and fans of Marshall University American football team leaving the town heartbroken. Refusing to give up though, new coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) is brought in to rebuild the football programme and honour the dead. Re-recruiting the only surviving previous member of staff Red Dawson (Matthew Fox) Lengyel goes about recruiting freshman and junior varsity players to make up the squad.

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Even though these events actually happened, all the usual genre clichés apply; the underdog team, the coach with the unorthodox methods, the dramatic pre-match speeches, and so on. So what’s to separate it from the pack? Well, truth be told, not much. Still, for anyone who likes their sports movies to stick to the formula with a side order of purposefully-weepy melodrama - not to mention a few period pop montages - it ticks all the boxes.

In the lead, the Southern-drawled Adonis McConaughey isn’t bad, but it’s the likes of Ian McShane (yes, yes, he’ll always be Lovejoy) and David Strathairn in smaller roles whose subtlety makes them stand out. Shining brightest is Matthew Fox whose impressive on-tap internal angst leads to all the most powerful moments as Red is haunted by survivor’s guilt. Ironic how the Lost star’s character here survived by not getting on the plane.

A straightforward, by-the-numbers sports movie designed to boost Kleenex sales, We Are Marshall isn’t terrible, it’s just been seen before. A lot.

Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2009
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We Are Marshall packshot
After the players and staff of a high school football team are killed in a plane crash, a coach is brought in to rebuild the squad in honour of the dead.
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