An Oliver Stone sports movie was never going to be about towel-whipping in the shower, wholesome exercise and pom poms. That this one tries to cover every single aspect of a multi-billion-dollar industry isn't too much of a surprise, and neither is the conclusion that it falls way short of being the definitive American football movie. If it had a stronger narrative focus, then maybe. But the complete film is far less than the sum of its parts.
One strength is the range of player characters: modern-day knights being preyed on by corporate America. Jamie Foxx all but stars as the petulant overnight celebrity player Beaman, while LL Cool J shines as a player who rates his Reebok deal above team loyalties. Against them are ranged their exploiters and groupies, with super-bitch Cameron Diaz on the front line. In classic Stone style, all the females are either juicers, hookers, doormats or flat-out bitches. Fascinating too are the match sequences, and for once, UK audiences get a better deal than the US. Having also sat through the 18-minute longer American version, we can report that the pace is improved, the story makes more sense and, most importantly, the running time is now two-and-a-half hours rather than three.
Yet throughout, content fights a rearguard action against overbearing style. Four editors are credited, and they all must have worked overtime to splice together the fury of relentlessly shaky, blurry, tracking camerawork that never lets up until the closing credits. Some of it is incredible but mostly it's too much to take.
All that potential, yet Any Given Sunday spends too long looking good, forgetting to tell a decent story. And in a final display of beingover-clever, it ruins an excellent final scene by tagging on a five-minute epilogue. Too flashy, far too flashy by half, Oliver.
In making a whole movie that runs with the wild intensity of Natural Born Killers' most frantic moments, Stone leaves too little time for the story. Overblown visuals predominate while the superb ensemble cast play second fiddle to the editing.