Some superb sequences (Pacino's final coaching speech is sports psychology gold), loads of entertaining grand-standing and a real knack for developing the spectacle of the game and its intimidating backstage shenanigans. However, it remains an uneven and disjointed film as a whole. 2.5
Here, Stone criticizes the world of sports and its corruption and yet ends it with all the cliches in the world to big showdown game, for the 'glory' of the game. It's hypocritical and ends up endorsing what he criticizes. He also commits his usual crime of heavy handedness. The first half is great though. One star for Jamie Foxx. One star for Salvatore Totino.
Stone had long since allowed his over-indulgence in style to drown out and muddle his (simplistic) themes. This film hits so many false and empty notes that it's hard to tell exactly what he's getting at. However, the film does stay interesting when Pacino and Foxx are onscreen (especially opposite each other). Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is nowhere near as compelling.
Oliver Stone is on fire here, turning out a movie that is as brutal and bone-crunching as the goriest of gladiator films. Yes, it's a movie that depicts pro-football in an overblown and cartoonish manner, but that only adds to the fun of the experience. The editing in the director's cut is sliced and honed to the perfection of a diamond, it's an underrated movie I greatly admire.