5 February 2006 | Cloud20
Of Sharks and Men.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, John C. McGinley, Aaron Eckhart, Charlton Heston, Oliver Stone, Elizabeth Berkley. Directed by Oliver Stone. Spoilers herein.
"Any Given Sunday" is a film that is a feast for the eyes, but not the mind. Stone does a great job for creating a dizzying direction, eye-opening visuals, and extremely loud sound, and he does all of this with the 2 and a half+ hours that he has to spare with the film but never does go deep into detail on the characters.
The story consists of a professional football team struggling with their season. The film opens with a quote from football legend Vince Lombardi, and then fades into a football game, where the starting quarterback for the Sharks, Jack Rooney is hurt in the middle of a game, unknown third string quarterback Willie Beaman is sent in for the rest of the season. As Beaman starts rising to fame, aging Coach D'Amato and Rooney begin to question if Beaman is worth risking the rest of the season and their chance for the championship as he is trying to make the team win by himself.
The performances are pretty good and powerful. Al Pacino and Jamie Foxx do great with the lead characters, and other familiar faces such as Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine and John C. McGinley in the supporting performances.
One thing I did really like about "Any Given Sunday" is how the action during the games is very realistic, gritty, and fast. It ultimately captures the intensity and hard work from the sport of Football. But like "Natural Born Killers" and "U Turn", the sound is so unbearably loud and images are so fast and dizzying that the film could give some viewers a headache. Stone has been known to cause controversy among his films, and this is a way that he seems to do it, but it didn't bother me so much as haters of the film. Despite of some of the strengths, "Any Given Sunday" does have a few flaws. The film is unnecessarily overlong, overly stylish, and underdeveloped. Stone really could have made the film about 20-30 minutes shorter, and with most of the time the characters are either playing on the game field or yelling at each other. Some scenes showing Willie's rise are no more interesting than a Nike Gridiron commercial or a Michael Bay film. Another thing Stone forgets to do is add emotion to the film, and he replaces that with mostly sports action.
Overall I really did enjoy this film a lot, for it's realistic football scenes and the living hell that the players go through in order to win. But at times it really does try too hard, especially when it's absent with a great script and follows clichés of older Football (or even gladiator) films. But I would recommend it to Stone fans and football fans especially. A very considerate 4 stars out of 5.