The story of Ernie Davis, the first black athlete to win college football's highest trophy, is milked for inspirational uplift – and clichés.
Chuck Hodes Courtesy of
Syracuse University halfback Ernie Davis was the first black athlete to win the Heisman Trophy, collegiate football's highest honor. He died of leukemia in 1963 before he had a chance to play in the big leagues with the Cleveland Browns. In "The Express," Davis's story is milked for every drop of inspirational uplift. As performed by Rob Brown, Davis is such a bland stand-up guy that our attention inevitably switches to Davis's head coach, played by Dennis Quaid in full gruff mode. A little orneriness goes a long way in this movie. "The Express" may prove valuable to movie historians since it's a compendium of virtually every sports movie cliché ever contrived. Grade: C- (Rated PG for thematic content, violence, language involving racism, and brief sensuality.)