Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday” is a film that literally anyone can watch. Because while it’s certainly a sport films centered on the industry of football, its central themes are relatable to anyone. While on the surface it’s about business and athletes, and competing, mainly “Any Given Sunday” is about a group of people trying desperately to out run the clock of time, and gain some sense of security for their future before father time catches up on them. When we meet these people in the narrative, many of them are at the beginning of their short careers trying to build a future, while others find their windows of opportunity closing and desperately cling to any chance to secure their future for themselves and their family. Stone composes a very richly defined ensemble drama about the football industry and how demanding it is both as an arena for skilled athletes, and athletes anxiously trying to bank on the momentum of their popularity, as fleeting it may be.
Jamie Foxx garners the most compelling of the slew of sub-plots, as Willie Beaman, a new draft pick for the Miami Knights, whose sudden surge of popularity after a few successful games manages to transform him in to his own worst enemy. Driven by a life of poverty, Beaman finds himself on the receiving end of big press and endorsement offers, and anxiously tries to touch on every potential moneymaking opportunity, all the while convincing himself that he’s the best player on his team of already struggling athletes. Though Foxx’s turn as Beaman allows for some truly despicable plot turns, Beaman is still a very empathetic character driven not so much by ambition as paralyzing fear that he’ll in poverty, while his contribution to his sport will have been in vain. There’s also coach Tony D’Amato and Christina Pagniacci, both of whom are at odds on how to create a richer legacy for the Knights as their losing streak turns off both fans and investors alike.
Cameron Diaz gives a top notch turn as Pagniacci, the heir to the team that her father once owned, who is struggling to decide on selling the team, or upholding her dad’s legacy, while D’Amato is eager to drive the team in to winners again and refuses to give up on what he’s worked so hard for. Al Pacino is fantastic as the decreasingly motivated D’Amato who is facing a new school of business men and women and is devoted to the Knights to a fault. Every single person we meet in “Any Given Sunday” has something to take away from this team’s welfare. Whether it’s John C. McGinley’s slimy opportunistic sports commentator, to James Woods as the team doctor who provides medical information on the team members only selectively for the sake of their game play, it’s really all delineating shades of gray and people struggling to find something they can take with them after so many years in what is a demanding and fast paced profession. “Any Given Sunday” is a richly composed and well acted ensemble piece, and one that spotlights the life of the athletes and the ticking clock that works against them.
Featured on the Director’s Cut Blu-Ray is a Director’s Commentary with Oliver Stone who discusses in wonderful detail about filming the movie, working with the cast, and how the movie fits in to his list of personal projects. There’s an Actor’s Commentary with Jamie Foxx who discusses working with Stone, his character and his own performance. Though not as entertaining as Stone’s Foxx is still an interesting personality. The new feature “Any Given Sunday: Anything Can Happen” is a thirty minute retrospective featuring interviews with Stone, NFL stars Marshall Faulk and Willie McGinest, and many more, all of whom speak on the movie, its authenticity, and its connection to the realities of working in the NFL.
“Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday” is a twenty seven minute HBO produced documentary that looks behind the scenes of the film and is your basic documentary on production. There are thirty minutes of deleted and extended scenes, many of which were injected in to the Director’s Cut. All scenes feature director’s commentary. There’s a trio of music videos from LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx. There’s the seven minute reel of Auditions and Screen Tests, a Gag Reel, and the twelve minute “Football and Landscape Outtakes” which features shots of the field and plays that didn’t make it in to the movie. There’s the “Instant Replay” which is solely about the film’s football sequences, “Production Stills and Advertising Gallery” which feature two galleries of more than 140 photos and marketing materials, and finally a theatrical trailer for the movie.