Brian Banks Review - Gripping, A Rare Exoneration Highlights Shocking Injustice

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Brian Banks, from Bleecker Street films, brings to the screen the story of the Long Beach football star, who spent eleven years fighting a wrongful conviction, and his story from USC committed to convicted rapist to free man.

Directed by Tom Shadyac, Brian Banks stars Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd, Tiffany Dupont, Matt Battaglia, Xosha Roquemore, Dorian Missick, Charles Alexandre, Jose Miguel Vasquez, David Clyde Carr, Mick Rudolph, and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Doug Atchison.


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Brian Banks begins on the football field, a little older, a little slower, and a lot wiser, Brian, played by Aldis Hodge, is playing for a local community college on the road to recapturing his dream. Sitting in the locker room, his pager goes off and he is forced to report to a parole officer, played by Mick Rudolph.

Today, Banks is told California has instituted a new policy and every convicted sex offender must wear an ankle bracelet. The monitoring system, he is told, will inform police wherever he goes. If he leaves the county, he will be arrested. He is strictly forbidden to be within 200 yards of a school, a park, any place children congregate. Trying to comply with the rules and take his life back, he explains he's playing football again. He is told no more football, get a job.

Ordered to leave his dream behind again, Banks hits the pavement looking for work. He is a genuine stand up guy, smart, articulate, smooth, attempting to maintained his dignity,as every employment option closed in his face.

Back at home, his mom, played by Sherri Shepherd, suggests he write Justin Brooks of the California Innocence Project, played by Greg Kinnear, and this time tell them who you are.

Banks writes a compelling letter telling the CIP about himself, his hopes, dreams, his pre-tragedy life, and yes, the false accusation, the dream that was suddenly interrupted by cops handcuffing him, and the man who mentored him in prison, about faith and how his Mom made him write the letter.


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This time, as he had been rejected for representation twice, somehow touched the right heart and the right time. Justin sends his assistant Alissa Bjerkhoel, played by Tiffany Dupont, to L.A. to interview him and explained, as she presents his case to the team, he is even more compelling in person. By the end of the interview all are convinced of his innocence.

Of course, that is all well and good. And the law is blind, just as the symbol is a blindfolded woman holding the scales of justice, which is meant to mean that all are equal and what it has come to mean is justice is blind. So, with ten months left to clear his name the CIP team begin to climb over the obstacles.

What follows is the true story of the final ten months of Brian Banks' supervised parole and the truths of life if the conviction was not overturned and how it would literally mean a lifetime label of convicted sex offender and all the restrictions, liabilities, constraints and judgments that are part of the penal system.

The film takes the audience from the present, one year before his supervised parole would end, and back to a foolish walk with a "friend" who wanted to have sex, and as he said, he wasn't wise enough or man enough to explain a dark hallway in a deserted building isn't the right place, so he left the girl alone.

Her story, and unbelievable rationale, also is presented. The story is shocking. It is a shocking injustice, railroading a young black man on the word of a young black woman, no DNA, no evidence. Besides, one can almost hear them saying, "he may not be guilty of this crime but he's guilty of something."


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The prison scenes are shot inside a real prison, and with five years behind bars, and sixty days in solitary, the film presents him as one who hits rock bottom. Yes, there was further to fall before he could rise again.

Morgan Freeman gives a cameo appearance as the man who mentors him during his first year as a juvenile offender and gives him advice that remained with him and now will be for all.

The entire cast, Aldis Hodges, Greg Kinnear, Moragn Freeman, Tiffany Dupont, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd, Mick Rudolph, Xosha Roquemore and Jose Miguel Vasquez all give solid authentic, dramatic character driven performances.

Brian Banks, highlights a shocking injustice and a rare exoneration as an overloaded system rubber stamped sentences on the advice of ill-prepared lawyers.


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Uplifting and inspiring Brian Banks is a story of hope, and a lesson in persistence even in the most difficult of times. When every door has been closed, never give up. The film opens Friday, August 9, 2019. See it.

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