Directed by: Ericson Core
Premise: True story of Vince Papale, a Philadelphia Eagles fan who made the team during open tryouts in the 1970s.
What Works: Invincible is a well put together sports film. The scenes of drills and plays capture the speed and athleticism of those who play it. Director Core seems to have studied Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia; there are many visual references to Riefenstahl’s film in the slow motion sequences of Papale running and catching the ball and the grandiose photography of the Eagle’s stadium. Off the field there are some really nice sequences between Papale and his father (Kevin Conway) and the film is able to capture the look of 1970s Philadelphia in ways that have not been seen since the original Rocky. Running concurrent with Papale’s story is a plotline of Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear), the Eagles Head Coach, whose uphill battle to fix the lackluster team mirrors Papale’s own challenges. This adds some texture and tension to the story.
What Doesn’t: The potential of the Vermeil plotline is never fully realized. There is a hint of tension between Vermeil and the rest of the team, but the film drops most of this to focus on Papale. As an entry in the sports film genre, Invincible is fairly by the numbers and it does not add very much to the genre, although it does do the formula pretty well.
Bottom Line: Invincible is fun and satisfying. As a sports film it has a solid execution and some well-done athletic sequences. Although not as innovative or interesting as Friday Night Lights, it is a good film and worth the price of admission.
Episode:#108 (September 3, 2006)