The first thing that strikes you about this film is the music. This film is a musical of sorts. I am referring to the music in the background. Classics from all genres of music are here - Metal, Rock 'n' Roll, Rap, Tehcno and even Classical. The snazzy feel of the movie is keeping in tune with Oliver Stone's earlier offerings. Stone's style is nippy, graphic and chaotic. Those who've watched Natural Born Killers can vouch for that.
Al Pacino stars as Tony D'Amato, the coach of an American football team, 'Sharks'. The team has lost three games in a row and even as the fourth one is added to that list, they also loose two 'Quarter-backs' - the best players in the team. One of them is 'Cap' Rooney (Dennis Quaid), a legend of the game. Cap breaks his ribs and is ruled out for most of the season.
Tony finds the going tough and there is pressure on him to move with the game. Christina Pagniacci, who (Cameron Diaz) owns the 'Sharks' after having taken over the team following her father's death, tries hard to convince Tony along these lines. Quite a few converstions go back to the days when Tony worked with her father. A prime instance of generation gap.
Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) is a young player who has been warming the bench all these years. He gets a chance to prove his mettle and he does it so well that he goes from listening to rap to rapping on the tele. America takes to his brash ways but Tony is disturbed by the fact that Willie shows affront towards all that the game has stood for, in the past.
As it comes down to the wire for the 'Sharks', Chrtistina wants Tony to ease out Cap Rooney and change his strategies and accommodate all the new demands the game starts making on him. Anyway, Cap and the other 'Quarter-back' make it back to the team and along with Willie are instrumental in snatching a close win, in a crucial game.
The story, for all its vociferousness, looks empathizingly at the predicament of those, whom the game has passed by. Christina herself appears to be a reluctant heir to her father's legacy. Cap Rooney is a guy who has to decide if he's going to play his last game now, his injury having partially healed, or prolong his career till he meets a similar point where he will be eased out by the management.
Al Pacino is as good as ever and he gets some really good dialogues. The early scenes where he is exhorting Jamie Foxx has him mouthing some really convincing ones. Diaz apears self-assured, in a role that is really a cameo. Jamie Foxx is the other actor who creates a good impression.
However, the movie's climax is a little too predictable. As with all sports movies, we have the hero standing tall, or lying exhausted on the field, victorious. The music that sets the tempo in the first place gets on your nerves after a while. What is the point of playing popular music in the background, which does not have anything to do with the proceeedings onscreen? One hopes that Oliver Stone hasn't run out of directorial techniques.
Nevertheless, the movie is a worthy addition to the genre of sports movies, and if you are well-versed with American Football, then this one is not to be missed.