Aldis Hodge makes a touchdown as he fights to regain his innocence
Biopics should be about people and their complications and integrity; and “Brian Banks” uses these intentions wisely without seeming so campy.
The film is based on the true story about football player Brian Banks, whose NFL dreams were shattered, because he was wrongfully convicted of a sex offense at the age of 16. Aldis Hodge is emotionally exceptional as that ex-con, who begins the biopic by explaining his unique gift in true game, and struggling to get a job.
After serving his wrongful sentence, he struggles to convince attorney Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) to take his case for his exoneration. Banks refuses to let the system brand him as a sex offender, and will do everything to regain his dreams and freedom, even if it means responding to a Facebook friend request from the woman (Xosha Roquemore) who accused him of the falsified rape.
The real-life Brian Banks and Justin Brooks also executive-produced this movie, directed by Tim Shadyac (“The Nutty Professor,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”), and it delves into the injustice aimed against Banks. And I especially admire how these kind of features splice the past and present together, instead of just moving as a time line. It leaves you feeling focused and sympathetic, depending on who the real-life person, which in this case is Brian Banks.
Again, Hodge is well-picked for the role, because of his emotions. In fact, he delivers one of his best performances of his career, and every scene when his character tells his story and how he struggles to overcome them made me tear up.
The cast also features Sherri Shepherd as Banks’ loving mother; Melanie Liburd (TV’s “This is Us”) as a personal trainer and Banks’ movie girlfriend; and Morgan Freeman is uncredited as a prison councilor, who leads him on the right path. And Kinnear’s dialogue reminded me of his “Little Miss Sunshine” character.
There’s one thing that always make me irritated, regardless on how true the events in this movie were. I always get irritated when characters blame the main person of the crime, and refuse to believe him. That’s one of my pet peeves. It’s nothing the movie did wrong, it’s me. I’m sorry. I just get annoyed by that sometimes.
Still, I was rooting for Brain Banks in the movie, even if we understand how he gets his life back on track. And I stayed during the end credits to see how his life pays off, as well as Brooks’ California Innocent Project (C.I.P.), which has exonerated innocent faces.
This movie should also remind people everyone has a right to say what’s on their mind, which, of course, is the truth. It’s about fighting the system, regaining a stolen life, and living up to your own expectations.