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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Gridiron Gang

Often the true mark of cinema, this is the category where you will often find the majority of the award winners. The challenge of combining realistic yet sympathetic characters with gripping stories and emotional themes can be a true challenge, but when it works, this is where Hollywood truly shines.

In his latest film Gridiron Gang Dwayne Johnson, better known as the Rock has an appealing mix of sports action, drama, and comedy on his hands that will not only touch you, but will have you cheering.

The Rock stars as Sean Porter, a former college football star who works in a L.A. Area detention center for juvenile offenders. Saddened by the wasted lives of the young men, Sean looks for them to find an alternative to the life of crime, violence, and early death that so many of his inmates face.

With 75% of offenders likely to become repeat offenders, Sean decides to start a football team with the hope of teaching the young inmates the value of hard work, sacrifice, playing as a team, and duty.

Despite some initial obstacles from the system as well as school leagues hesitant to play against convicted offenders, the team son finds themselves with a full schedule and less than three weeks to go before their first game.

The hard practice and coaching style of Sean wears on the players, but they soon find themselves in their first game against a hardened and proven team which underscores just how much work they have to do.

As pressure mounts from all sides, Sean must find a way to meld his team into a winner and prove that this is a project worth doing and that the young men in his care are not lost causes, but are deserving of a new start.

While much of the film may play out as you would expect with the team coming together to play the big game, what is refreshing about the film is the solid performance of The Rock who shows that he is more than just an action star and is very capable of acting. He mixes his portrayal of Sean with equal amounts toughness and caring, to create what is easily his most mature and well defined character to date.

The supporting cast is good, especially Xzibit as Malcolm Moore, who provides a solid supporting presence to The Rock.

While the film is heavy on football action, it also does not shy away from giving the audience a glimpse of the life that the team comes from and how old rivalries and

hostilities can follow them even when they try to leave them behind with the best of intentions.

The action on the field is first-rate as the game choreography never lets up, and is easily the most accurate portrayal of the sport ever committed to film. You can tell that the cast is playing with heart and passion and not simply going through the motions.

Despite a few predictable moments, Gridiron Gang is a very pleasant surprise that is one of the years most enjoyable and satisfying films.

4 stars out 5


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