Review: We Are Marshall (2006)


Director: McG | 124 minutes | drama, sports | Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Anthony Mackie, David Strathairn, Ian McShane, Kate Mara, January Jones, Kimberly Williams, Arlen Escarpeta, Robert Patrick, Brian Geraghty, Tommy Cresswell, Christian Kanupke, Nina Jones, Kevin Atkins, Mark Patton, Huntley Ritter, Brett Rice, Dalton Polston, Andrew Wilson Williams, Ellie Zellers, Mark Oliver, Brian Beegle, L. Warren Young, David Dwyer, Wes Brown, Mike Pniewski

November 14, 1970 was a black day for Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. During the flight back after an away game, the plane crashes and the respected American Football team of the school (consisting of 75 men) and the coaches are killed. The news hits the village hard and the sport and the team the village have been cheering for for decades is no more.

For Marshall University and the village of Huntington, “Marshall Football” is more than just a sport, it is a way of life. After the plane crash, which ended American Football in the village in one fell swoop, the university tries to resume their activities. However, they are not ready to start a new Football team and the village is mourning the great losses they have suffered. The few players who have stayed at home feel guilty that they are still alive and the assistant coach named Red Dawson (played by Matthew Fox, who apparently gets on planes less often since his role in ‘Lost’), who takes the car after the away game, wants nothing more to do with American Football. After a few months, the head of the university decides to place an ad for a new football coach to slowly but surely start a new team. There is no reaction, given the coaches think it is a thankless job and the director is at his wits end.

Then he gets a call from American Football fan Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey). This Texan talking family man, who does not live in the village and has no coaching experience, sees something in this job. After some insistence with the director, he becomes a coach and does everything in his power to put a team back together.

His first step is to talk to assistant coach Red Dawson to rejoin the team. After achieving this goal, they try to put together a team. This is more difficult than expected, because who wants to play for a team without players. After having found enough players (they are also taken from other sports such as football and basketball) they are ready for the first match. The team turns out to be a fiasco and they lose a lot. The village and the director begin to lose faith in the team and in Coach Lengyel, so it’s up to him to regain trust and form a winning team.

Matthew McConaughey convincingly plays a Texan Hillbilly, heart in the right place, but he has played that role before. It is a pity that he again shows that he is not a versatile actor. Matthew Fox performs well as an assistant coach losing his head coach and football team. “We Are Marshall” is the first major film he has starred in since his role as Jack on the hit series “Lost”, and given his acting, it certainly won’t be the last.

“We Are Marshall” is based on a true story. This usually means that the content is romanticized to appeal to the Hollywood audience a bit more. You have that feeling with “We Are Marshall” too, and that’s a shame. In the end it turned out to be a fun film along the lines of “Remember the Titans”, with less acting, but certainly worth it.