When I went to the movies this week to see the Brian Banks film, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t seen any advertising for it and I didn’t hear any word-of-mouth promotion. Honestly, the only thing that brought it to my attention was a tweet from Will Packer that featured a mini trailer for the movie. Later on, I learned that the executive producer, Tirrell Whitley, is a FAMU graduate so you know that was all the more reason for me to see it.
At first glance, the premise of the movie is one we’re all familiar with… a star football player with NFL potential is wrongly convicted of rape. Not only have we seen it in movies, but we’ve lived through years and years of Black men being falsely convicted of crimes that they did not commit. I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much I can take when it comes to Black trauma on the screen (which is the reason I still haven’t watched ‘When They See Us‘). This is why I had a bit of hesitancy in going to see Brian Banks, but I must admit that I am happy I did.
What I loved most about the movie is that Brian Banks isn’t about a white savior. Instead, Brian Banks is about being your own biggest advocate and spokesperson. In 2002, the real Brian Banks was convicted and charged as an adult for the rape of a classmate. As the film unfolds, we see more of what happened and why the classmate lied, ruining Brian’s dreams of playing in the NFL. Even after his release from prison, Brian struggled with finding a job due to his history of convictions. I’d believe that the biggest weight one could carry is knowing that you are innocent of a crime but being incapable of proving that to others. Brian fought for himself when no one else would. He found a lawyer that was focusing on the falsely accused but even with him, there was an uphill battle.
Initially, the lawyer didn’t want to take the case on because there was no smoking gun to prove Brian’s innocence unequivocally. If you ask me, Brian had to convince him more than he should have and even after getting the proper evidence, the hesitation from the lawyer was questionable. However, Brian persisted in being a proponent from himself which is the real reason he was later exonerated in 2012. Since then, Brian and the lawyer have been advocates for prison reform and the wrongly convicted.
One of the quotes I loved from the movie was by Morgan Freeman who plays a mentor of Brian’s in prison:
“The only thing you can control in life is how you react to life.”
So, if you were to take anything from Brian Banks, remember that although most everything is out of our control, the one thing you can do is speak up and speak out for yourself and never back down from what you believe.
SN: Aldis Hodge is a phenomenal actor and he should have multiple Oscars by now. I’m calling it.
You can watch the trailer for Brian Banks here: