The inspirational true story of Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge), an All-American high school football star committed to USC who finds his life upended when he is wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Despite lack of evidence, Banks is railroaded through a broken justice system and sentenced to a decade of prison and probation. Years later, with the support of Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) and the California Innocence Project, Banks fights to reclaim his life and fulfill his dreams of playing in the NFL.Written by
Famed Memphis educator Tracey Sadlak can be plainly seen in a game crowd scene. She has hair so it is obviously before her bout with cancer. See more »
The ending shows Brian Banks playing for the Atlanta Falcons; coming out onto the field of the Mercedez-Benz Stadium. That stadium wasn't built until 2017. In 2013 The Atlanta Falcons played in the now demolished Georgia Dome. See more »
Brian, I want to help you. I do. And in a perfect world you and I would just waltz into the court, you tell them what Shayla said and they'd reopen your case. But that is not the world we live in. The system is broken. It's what I'm trying to tell you. It just doesn't care.
I'm just suppose to accept that? That the system is broken? You know what I say to that? Fuck the system. No, for real, man. Why can't we at least try? What is the system? It's people. yeah, It's cops, lawyers, judges. If one...
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Greetings again from the darkness. With the momentum of the #MeToo movement, and the attention being paid to harassment and discrimination in all walks of life, there really is no better time for a film that tells the story of Brian Banks. We are counseled to believe women as they recount their heart-breaking and life-altering stories, and it's Mr. Banks' story that reminds us what should matter in all situations ... truth and justice.
Brian was a 16 year old football star at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California when Wanetta Gibson (renamed Kennisha Rice in the movie) accused him of rape on school grounds. Banks was expelled from school, lost his athletic scholarship to USC, and poor legal advice led him to a plea bargain that resulted in his serving a 5 year prison sentence and another 5 years on restrictive probation. From day one, Brian Banks never wavered in the proclamation of his innocence.
In his situation, the only way for Brian to get some semblance of his life back was exoneration by the judge; and the only way that could happen would be new evidence or a recant of testimony by the accuser. Justin Brooks (played here by Greg Kinnear), the founder of the California Innocence Project, was touched by Brian's story, but just couldn't find a way to help. Surely the film offers some dramatization of actual events, but Brian Banks and his story are fascinating on many levels ... and it makes for a though-provoking and inspirational 99 minutes.
Banks was a convicted man whose own conviction of his innocence is proof of just how strong the human spirit can be. Director Tom Shadyac (PATCH ADAMS 1998, ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE 1994) had his own life-altering event, and it's partly why this is his first narrative feature in more than a decade. It's likely the "second chance at life" hit home, and the script from Doug Atchison (AKEELA AND THE BEE, 2006) manages to hit the high and low points experienced by Banks and his single mom (played by Sherri Shepherd), who never lost faith.
Aldis Hodge ("City on a Hill") is outstanding as Brian Banks. He perfectly conveys the multitude of feelings of a man so confounded by a life gone wrong - yet so dedicated to staying on the right path despite all obstacles. In addition to the aforementioned Greg Kinnear and Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd shines as Karina - Brian's new romantic interest (who shares her own story of past sexual abuse), and Xosha Roquemore performs admirably and memorably in the thankless role of Kennisha Rice. It should also be noted that Morgan Freeman has a cameo as a prison counselor who makes an impact on Brian.
The film begins with Brian explaining that he never really knew what "freedom" meant until it was taken from him, and then he re-gained it. That's a powerful statement, and it nicely corresponds to another lesson the film provides: "All you can control in life is how you respond to life." The film may be a bit glossy at times, but its message and its central character are inspirational ... and a source for further important discussions.
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