More than anything, Hollywood loves comebacks, and Kevin Costner has certainly had one, from his Golden Globe Winning performance in Hatfields and McCoys to his supporting roles in action films like Man of Steel and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Now he brings us the fictional football film Draft Day from director Ivan Reitman, the acclaimed director of Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Kindergarten Cop. While it’s hardly Moneyball, Draft Day is an enjoyable film with good performances and directing that will appeal to moderate film fans and hardcore football fans.
Kevin Costner delivers a solid performance. Though his character has a lot of great moments, many moments are quite different and make his character feel unfocused. Jennifer garner gives a good performance as well and has generally good chemistry with Costner. Also great is a hilarious performance by Frank Lagella, who despite being one of the most talented actors in the business, is vastly underused. Chadwick Boseman, Arian Foster, Denis Leary, Josh Pence, Tom Welling, Terry Crews, and Sam Elliot are all good in smaller roles, but aren’t as developed as the leading characters.
Director Ivan Reitman does a good job building tension, especially toward the film’s last thirty minutes, which are by far the most interesting and exciting moments of the entire film. These last scenes make the film and are by the film’s most impressively directed section. The beginning also does a good job at setting up the film by introducing its situation in an interesting way. However, the middle section of the film feels confused and sometimes overlong. Much of this section revolves around a subplot involving the father of Costner’s character. This section is decent, but takes up too much of the film for its own good and seems to confuse the emotional core instead of solidifying it. Humor is present throughout the film’s middle, which help make the experience more enjoyable. The best moments of the middle are those that focus around the actual football and draft, especially around the actual football players portrayed by Tom Welling, Chadwick Boseman, Arian Foster, and Josh Pence. Overall, the best parts of the film are those directly relating to football, not any of the subplots.
Many unique visual styles are attempted throughout the film, specifically scenes that revolve around characters talking on the phone. While these sequences are interesting, they ultimately feel distracting in comparison to the rest of the film. The score is good, but underused in many moments. Despite the length of the middle, the film is generally well edited, specifically regarding the tension building around the draft. The film’s humor works pretty well throughout, as each actor is given enough humor opposed to one performer stealing every comedic scene.
Draft Day is a good film with few major flaws. Overall, it is a film that doesn’t really have anything special, but remains very enjoyable throughout its runtime, especially due to the strong directing by Ivan Reitman and the good performances by its impressive cast. Draft Day is a solid and ultimately worthwhile film. Grade: B