From Oliver Stone, the director of movies like "Wall Street", "Born On The Fourth Of July" and "Natural Born Killers" comes "Any Given Sunday" - a gritty film on American football and its players, its coaches, its politics, its doctors on team, its financiers, its after-game parties and its locker-room talk.
The movie watches the rise of a Miami football team called the "Sharks" after having lost four games in a row through radical, new play tactics introduced by team-mate Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) who takes charge after Jack 'Cap' Rooney (Dennis Quaid) gets injured on field.
Beamen's rising popularity and success make him hunger for more personal recognition; greed and ambition momentarily cloud his team spirit. Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino), the team's coach, struggles to hold the team together against assaults from nosey reporters and money-hungry Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), who clutches the team's purse-strings. As the season advances, the team as a whole has its fall-outs.
Although the running time of the flick is long there's not a boring moment in it. The pace is quick and Stone has thrown in some brilliant scenes. The filming of each game the Sharks play is detailed and the camera focuses on just the right moments on field. It swerves between stadium lights, excited crowds, cheerleaders, off the line team members, coaches and medics who swear out curses and instructions at every drop of the ball, taking the audience to the field and placing them bang in the middle of the action.
The acting in this movie is of high calibre. Al Pacino, it goes without saying, gives an excellent performance as a committed coach to a failing team. He's expressive and in control. Jamie Foxx renders the role of a relatively young player heady with success well.
Watch out for the scene of the showdown between Pacino and Beamen at the coach's house and D'Amato's speech to the team a few mintues before the last game of the season - the former is brilliantly crafted and the latter is eloquent.
The tight editing and intelligent direction keep the viewer engaged. The story takes a hard look at the lives of players off the field, sharp focusing on their compulsions and struggles. If you don't mind excessive profanity and lots of football, here's the movie for the weekend.This article was first published on 13 Nov 2000.