I really wanted to love the movie 42.
From the first preview I saw, it was decided that this would be a film I must watch and I was confident that it would be a winner. But, like many other times in life, I have been duped! The story of Major League Baseball’s first African-American player (in modern times) is one that resonates with several people for a variety of reasons. Jackie Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman (who by far was the best performer in this film), did so much more than open the door for blacks in America’s favorite past-time. His story is a microcosm for all that was wrong, could have been, and should be regarding race relations post-Civil War in the United States. It was a time of great tension merged with dangerous convictions, surfacing through a thick haze of complexity.
However, according to 42, Robinson’s struggle as a professional baseball player was generic. Judging from the lacklustre script and uninspiring score, Robinson was a gifted athlete who was lucky enough to have Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), Brooklyn Dodgers executive, believe in him and bravely break the rules by allowing Robinson to play with the major league team.
The film lacked depth. There is truth to the expression "it's all in the details". The audience needed to be immersed in all of the messy and devastating specifics that arise as a black man forced to obey by a colour line that is systematically drawn to remind him that he isn't worthy. There is a scene where Robinson is on the field and his strength and will are tested when the opposing team's manager hurls the most cringeworthy insults at the top of his lungs. This is the most memorable scene because it demonstrates the everyday struggles that Robinson, and other blacks, were forced to endure.
I imagine if Robinson was around today he would have countless stories that could captivate any engaged mind. Unfortunately, 42's approach was too broad and lacked any subtle sub-plots to round off this incredible piece of history.