I have heard it said that life is the toughest opponent a person can face because it is relentless in its attacks. In those moments of difficulty, it is how a person responds to adversity that defines who they are. 

The new movie, “Brian Banks,” shows what real courage is and what it means to stand tall.

The movie tells the story of Brian Banks, who had his whole life ahead of him. He was a standout player at Long Beach Poly High School and was committed to playing college football at the University of Southern California. These dreams came to a halt when, at 16 years of age, Banks was falsely accused of rape, wrongly convicted and sent to prison. 

After he was released, Banks worked to clear his name and enlisted the help of the California Innocence Project. The project worked with Banks to help him reclaim his life by providing him with a voice in the justice system. 

Going into this film, I didn’t know what to expect. I genuinely thought that it was going to be one of the generic cliché type sports movies about overcoming obstacle after obstacle, kind of like a B-movie version of “Rudy.”

I was happy to be proven wrong because “Brian Banks” shares a valuable lesson with its audience about character. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines character as the complex of mental and ethical traits making and often individualizing a person, group or nation. It was inspiring to me to see Banks’ positive character shine through despite outside forces trying to keep him down. 

Adversities he faced including looking for a job to only get turned down due to his criminal record or his attempts to work through the legal system. While it would have been easy to give up, he didn’t. Banks continued to press on to change his circumstances. 

Aldis Hodge portrayed Banks in the film and did a marvelous job in bringing his story to life on the big screen. His emotion could be felt not only in the words he said but though his non-verbal actions. The way Hodge showed Banks’ spirit as one that couldn’t be broken by a system and people who had failed him was inspirational. He refused to accept his fate and the label of a victim. 

“Brian Banks” is a film I think everyone needs to see before it leaves theaters as it is a hidden gem. I give “Brian Banks” eight out of 10 stars. It is rated PG-13 for thematic content and related images and or language. It runs for 99 minutes.

For more information about this film, visit its official website at www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/brianbanks. If you can’t make it to the theater in time, do read Banks’ book, “What Set Me Free.”

Andrew Branca is an award-winning journalist with the Waxahachie Sun. Contact Andrew at andrew@waxahachiesun.com or by phone at 972-268-7022. Be sure to check out his movie review videos online at www.waxahachiesun.com.

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