Draft Day never finds the right mixture of narrative excitement and NFL commercialism, falling flat in most regards outside of a fairly engaging final half hour. The movie follows Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner), the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, at the beginning of the most important day of his career. He’s facing strife from his girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner), who runs the team’s finances, along with conflict from the owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), who wants him to make a splash at the draft. That would require getting a franchise QB, which everyone believes the team needs, but Weaver doesn’t see that; he likes linebacker Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and running back Ray Jennings (Arian Foster). The story follows his pursuit to get the #1 overall pick and make an impact for his team, but the process feels too safe and uninspired. It doesn’t lend itself well to a narrative feature because the added drama feels unnecessary and insincere in the context of the ruthless nature of building an NFL franchise. Costner is respectable in the lead, but this is one of Ivan Reitman’s weaker efforts. It feels like a film fit for documentary form, and never goes above what it needs to do to promote the brand of the NFL.
Grade: ★★ (out of 5)