review by Bobby Blakey
Sports dramas have the possibility of being some of the best films out there. They offer all sorts of directions to play with and the excitement of the sports side. The latest, Wolves starring Michael Shannon, Carla Gugino, Taylor John Smith, Zazie Beetz, and Chris Bauer, but does it offer up something that makes it stand out or will it miss its shot?
Wolves follows an 18-year-old basketball star who is being recruited by Cornell University seems to have it all figured out: captain of his team, a good student, has a longtime girlfriend and some good friends. But at home he's struggling with his troubled father who has a gambling addiction. His mother tries to keep the family afloat but does so with great emotional and financial sacrifice. This was an interesting direction for the sports drama as it isn’t really focused on the basketball at all, but instead the torment this poor kid has to deal with off the court due to his dad’s personal issues. It had a bigger feel than it might otherwise thanks to the cast who are all great here, but infused with realism to remind us that not all stories are smiles and sunshine. Make no mistake there is plenty of basketball moments that are well shot and work which brings the drama to both aspects in how it affects his game and future.
Michael Shannon is as amazing as ever in this role and the one person in the film that is given the most to do. Smith does most of the heavy lifting having to shine as the beloved sports star while struggling with so much personal drama while trying to do something with himself. The always great Carla Gugino shines as the emotional strength for both of them that is needed to keep everything from falling apart. This is a gritty sports drama that works way better than you might think and has a lot more depth than I had expected. It isn’t breaking down any walls in the genre, but it is a good movie that deserves to be seen.