November 18, 2019  (Web Review)

Brian Banks

Universal, 99 min., PG-13, DVD: $22.99, Blu-ray: $34.99, Nov. 12

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Timing is everything. Unfortunately, the release of this redemption story occurs at a time when #MeToo and documented incidents of sexual assault have recently dominated the news. At Polytechnic High School in Long Beach in 2002, teenage Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) was a linebacker on the prestigious Jackrabbit team, with an assured scholarship to the University of Southern California. But after Banks hooked up with coed Kinnesha Rice (Xosha Roquemore), she accused him of rape. Following Banks’s arrest, the public defender urged him to make a no-contest plea deal. So he received a six-year prison sentence, was required to register as a sex offender, and ordered to wear an ankle monitor during his parole. Having lost all hope of a professional football career and unable to find gainful employment, Banks—with the support of his single mother (Sherri Shepherd)—turns to idealistic attorney Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) at the California Innocence Project in a bid to overturn the verdict and clear his name. At first, Brooks and his tenacious team are reluctant to publicly place blame on a victim of sexual assault, but they persevere. At age 28, Banks became the oldest player ever to join the NFL. Formulaically scripted by Doug Atchison, director Tom Shadyac’s inspirational biopic is a mixed bag as a drama. A strong optional purchase. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include a “making-of” featurette (2 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a small extras package for an uneven film.] (S. Granger)