Directed by Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie
In 1945 Branch Rickey (Ford) offered Jackie Robinson (Boseman) a contract to play professional baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. Robinson was being given the chance to become the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. With his wife Rachel (Beharie) by his side, Robinson took to the field amidst taunts and threats in an attempt to break the color barrier in baseball.
This is a nicely done biopic on the life of a pioneering player in the game of baseball. The cast includes Chadwick Boseman in his first major role, Harrison Ford (The Fugitive), and Nicole Beharie (The Express). In addition to these three actors, the film has a ton of familiar faces filling in this interesting film. The actors all do a nice job with putting this story together. Director Brian Helgeland (Payback) does a nice job recreating the world of baseball in the 40’s, with great recreations of the classic stadiums and wonderful set design.
One of the strengths of this film is the story. It’s obviously written to focus on the poise and grace with which Robinson handled the horrifying abuse. Baseball is a game built on history and this movie is a great look at a pivotal moment in the sport. The filmmakers also don’t shy away from displaying the harsh treatment given to Robinson on and off the field. Another strength of the movie is the acting. Ford and Boseman really anchor the story with great work. The remaining cast all do a nice job as well. Nicole Beharie is impressive as the woman who stood next to Jackie Robinson throughout years of abuse.
The weakness of this movie comes from the overly sentimental feel. I really liked this movie, I just couldn’t fall in love with it. Some of the scenes felt contrived and almost idealistic. This doesn’t hurt the movie from a story standpoint, but it takes a bit of the edge off of some important moments in the film.
Overall, this is a great movie for anyone who loves baseball. It’s also an important story to tell about the evils of segregation, not only in sports, but in all aspects of American life. I would also recommend this movie to fans of American history since it does a nice job recreating an era that’s long gone. 42 has great moments both on and off the field. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
Running Time: 128 minutes
Here are some highlights from the career of Jackie Robinson.