Movie Review: Brian Banks

From Merriam Webster:

INJUSTICE applies to any act that involves unfairness to another or violation of one’s rights. The injustices suffered by the lower classes INJURY applies in law specifically to an injustice for which one may sue to recover compensation.

In all my years of being an avid movie goer, I have never seen a true story like the one depicted in the new movie “Brian Banks” that defines a level of monumental injustice as much as this story. As a matter of fact, if Brian Banks was not a true story, it would never work as a movie, because nobody would believe that something this outrageous could ever happen to anyone who lives in this country. All of us know that the legal system in this country is corrupt and broken in so many cases, but what happened to Brian Banks in 2002 is an outrage that was unbelievable to realize. Just one problem in our disastrous legal system are the plea bargain’s that occur in 97% of the cases, many times because the courts are so backed up and the defense attorney’s don’t care about their clients. As a result innocent people are thrown in jail because of expediency and incompetence, and as a result, lives are forever ruined.

Brian Banks was 16 years old in 2002 and a top college and future NFL prospect. He was accused of raping a 15 year old girl and he was not only innocent, but his innocence was so obvious that only a system as corrupt and broken as the legal system in this country could have convicted this young man who did absolutely nothing wrong. Many of the events in this very good film were difficult to sit through because anyone with any sense of empathy for another human being could only imagine what it was like to be only 16 years old with a great future and being forced to do hard time for 6 years only because of a broken legal system. Only because of a judge that didn’t care enough about a young man and a defense lawyer that was utterly incompetent. Imagine being trapped in a disgusting jail cell in constant danger, your life ruined before you are even 20 years old when you did nothing wrong. Put in solitary for 60 days, wondering “why me” every hour of every day for 6 long years. Then when you are released and on probation, you can never have a shot at getting into the NFL or even get a job – and you did nothing wrong. Your name is placed on every sex offender’s list in this country and you did nothing wrong.

Through it all his accuser knew he was innocent and never had enough humanity to come forward and tell the truth. What this film does extremely well is show how Brian was able to survive these horrible years only because of an instructor at the prison who taught him about life, including concepts like, “All you can control in life is how you respond to life.” – great advice given in the self help book
“As a Man Thinketh” mentioned in this movie several times. The most impressive aspect of this story is that through all of this, Brian Banks never gave up trying to clear his name despite the impossible odds and a broken legal system that included so many people that just did not care enough to help him.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for this film at only 55% are not only wrong, but this time around – absurd. I give this movie a 95% rating for the story, the great screenplay and the acting that includes Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks, Sherri Shepherd as Brian’s mother, Morgan Freeman who is great as the prison instructor and Greg Kinnear as the lawyer who saved Brian’s life and cleared his name. I give a strong recommendation to Brian Banks as one of the best movies about a true story and injustice that I have ever seen.

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