Director Ric Roman Waugh’s NATIONAL CHAMPIONS is a riveting indictment of the collegiate athletic system’s financial setup and a contemplation on which and how players should benefit from it.
The story follows star quarterback LeMarcus James (Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk, 21 Bridges) and his best friend/teammate Emmett Sunday (Alexander Ludwig, Bad Boys for Life) as they forge a player’s strike three days before the college football national championship. With billions of dollars on the line, their actions incite team leaders and administration, including its head coach (J.K. Simmons, Spider-man: No Way Home) and a bulldog legal adviser (a phenomenal Uzo Aduba, Really Love), to prevent other players from joining the strike and stop it all together by any means necessary.
A sports drama that plays almost like a thriller at times, the film is at its best when it focuses on the main story at hand, but is bogged down a bit by an unnecessary cheating side story – which results in a means to an end for one protagonist but plays more like a waste of precious film time.
Nonetheless, “National Champions” accomplishes what is sets out and, no matter where you find yourself on the issue, prompts one to consider the effects a strike could have and how one would actually play out in real life.
I rate the movie 3 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS is available now on Digital and will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 8.
Until next thought, Thomasena
PS: check out an extended preview of the film below!