Critic Reviews



Based on 23 critic reviews provided by
High Flying Bird is often serious in how it deals with issues more substantial than just sports, but even beyond McCraney’s sharp, witty script, there’s a sense of joy here. The fun Soderbergh had making the film radiates off it, with this masterful movie that reminds the audience why we’re lucky one of the greatest living directors is still in the business.
The film is funny, quick-witted, and even throws in a little sex for good measure. Best of all, its various competing ideas eventually knot together in such satisfying ways that the didacticism required to bind them up feels more like a feature than a bug.
Most modern sports movies feel a few years behind the story—purposefully nostalgic for a feel-good, motivational story. High Flying Bird feels like a product of the 2018-19 NBA season, which may not have a lockout but is dealing with the same issues.
Steven Soderbergh’s film considers modern media as a vehicle for revising white patriarchal capitalism.
There is tons of game in this fleet, fast-paced modern sports story, which entertainingly substitutes lived-in wisdom for expert dribbling, skillful gambits for clever passing, and witty dialogue for points-racking shots.
Soderbergh and McCraney have entertainingly stirred the pot and put a perspective on the screen that will stir some reactions in the real world and get the issue of ownership and fairness talked about, at least for a while. It’s a sharp-minded film.
High Flying Bird turns out to be a kind of shaggy heist movie, with a grand design (and payout) that’s only fully clear in retrospect.
It’s certainly more interested in ideas than characters, and the film stumbles when it makes half-hearted attempts at romantic intrigue or tragic backstories, but its subversive view of race, money and power in modern sports couldn’t be more timely.
High Flying Bird is an unshapely piece of storytelling — there are gaps in the plot, and it never locks into a rhythm — but that mournfulness and resentment seep into you.
Although compelling ideas float through High Flying Bird, the film is neither well crafted or intellectually rigorous enough to compensate for a generally lacklustre presentation.

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