The Express is not just a name. It is history.
The film is a story of an athlete who overcomes social discrimination and provokes black athletes across the nation to stand out from the crowd.
This production is not a football film. It is more than that.
Ernie Davis’ story begins in Uniontown, Penn., in a transitional era when segregation in schools was normal and when civil rights to every American, regardless of race, was added to the Constitution.
The young Ernie Davis has a poster of Jackie Robinson, a role model who inspired many black athletes to pursue their dreams and break through social oppression, on his wall.
Davis’ grandfather, Pops, is his guardian throughout his childhood who instills in him at a young age that he can do anything and to follow Corinthians 15:10, which says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
This verse gives Davis’ character a meaning larger than just football.
In his high school years, the now older Ernie Davis played by Rob Brown, impresses college scouts, breaking through would-be tacklers and running circles around players, much like his favorite player, Jim Brown, played by Darrin Dewitt Henson.
Needless to say, Davis is a beast on the gridiron.
The Syracuse head coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, played by Dennis Quaid, recruits Davis to play for the Orangemen. He provides helpful advice and stands up for his players despite his own possible persecution as an “n-word lover.”
The movie has more racial slurs than most would appreciate, but it shows how hard it was being a black American during that time.
The racially-charged storyline builds into climax when Davis and the Orangemen face off against the University of Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. The unforgiving fans and brutal players from UT make a victory in Dallas seem impossible.
Coach Schwartzwalder says about the national championship, “This is more than a game now. I can see that just as plain as any of you.”
The visual appeal in the film is impeccable.
Old film clips mixed with fast-paced action makes watching the games extremely pleasing.
The cinematography used in the film is by far the best of the fall season. The camera angles are unique. The production makes use of several different techniques, each enhancing the film into a superfluous retelling of Ernie Davis’ story.
This inspirational film is a treat in a rather unimpressive fall movie season. The Express stands out above titles like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Lakeview Terrace to give movie-goers a great cinematic experience teeming with inspirational themes, superb acting and unparalleled cinematography.
The movie leaves viewers with Davis giving a single piece of advice to one of his fans, saying, “Football is just a game. What matters is who you play for.”