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Gridiron Gang

Got grit
By TOM MEEK  |  September 13, 2006
2.5 2.5 Stars

A former college football star turned prison guard trying to make a difference in a juvenile-detention lock-up turns kids onto the game. Sound like a cog out of the feel-good factory? Think again. This one’s got grit, and it’s based on the real-life tribulations of Sean Porter, who’s played here by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sure, some of the locker-room speeches are cliché’d, and platitudes abound, but when Porter tries to convince a high-school-league commissioner to let his boys jump in for the season, or grapples with the individual afflictions of his charges, the film scores some emotional points and the former WWE star gets to expand his limited thespian repertoire. Director Phil Joanou, who’s had his ups (Rattle and Hum and State of Grace) and downs (Final Analysis), doesn’t quite avoid the genre’s pitfalls. Nonetheless, his rendering of street violence (gang retaliations) is harrowing, brutal, and disturbingly real.

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