First Hit: A very good and enjoyable film that covered most all the necessary bases, sort-of-speak.
Jackie Robinson made history by being the first black man (“negro” in the film) to sign and play on a major league baseball team.
Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) was the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and he foresaw the day, ahead of everyone else, that putting the best players on the field is what is important. Later on in the film Jackie (Chadwick Boseman) sits down with Branch and asks him to give him the real reason why he took this chance; the answer is heartfelt.
Overall this film is set up to please everyone. It isn’t a dark film, which it could have been, nor does it gloss over the pain Jackie went through; it is placed in the middle. I think this was done to bring in a wider audience.
There are scenes in this film that are beautifully done: Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) returning to his home town and realizing he has to make his truth known on the field; and Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) dressing down the team for the petition they were signing. The film is filled with them. Yes, some of it is sugar coated, but the diatribe by the Phillies manager was clearly enough to give the film audience a taste of what Robinson went through.
The baseball scenes were well shot and brought the beauty and intensity of baseball to the screen.
Ford was amazingly gruff, focused, driven and a joy to watch as he truly made this role his own. Boseman was really great as Jackie. He gave us an amazing view of the emotional ups and downs that Jackie might have gone through. Nicole Beharie gave us a solid performance as Jackie’s wife Rachel. Being of strong nature herself, the shock of the south required her to find other ways to fight back. Meloni was fantastic as Durocher. John C. McGinley as radio announcer Red Barber was really good. Andre Holland playing black sports writer Wendell Smith was really good and at times inspiring. Brian Helgeland wrote and directed this with an eye and ear for baseball and the social commentary required to pull this off.
Overall: This was a very good full family film.