23 Blast Fails to Deliver an Incredible True Story

23 Blast ReviewAs a coach, I taught my football players how to execute the 23 Blast. It was a significant play and always gained more yardage than the 23 or the 23 power. The main reason it succeeded was due to overloading blockers advancing through the three hole at the line of scrimmage. In other words, two blockers would blast through, leading the 2 back through the 3 hole.

It was more than powerful and seldom defended with anything that might stop the play before a 5-7 yard gain. But it couldn’t be done with every play or the defensive line would just plug up the hole and allow the linebacker to leap over the mess to tackle the runner for a loss.

23 Blast, the movie, wasn’t anywhere near as powerful as one would hope. Thanks to the terrible music selection and slow paced editing, the film barely made it to a warm and fuzzy status enjoyed by Hallmark Channel fans. I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t supposed to be a hard-hitting football story.

The one redeeming quality of the film was the cast. The young actors did an incredible job with their authentic performances and helped me through the boring segments. In fact, the performances inspired me to look up the actors and find out what other films they were in.

23 Blast ReviewThe film was based on the true-life story of Travis Freeman, a boy who went blind and decided to continue playing football with the encouragement of those around him.

Having coached in a league with a blind player, I can tell you it’s both difficult to watch and extremely inspiring, especially when the team succeeds. Unfortunately, the film didn’t raise the inspirational level of impact to anything that resembled the real thing.

23 Blast is now available on video. The DVD comes with extra features including the Travis Freeman Story, an update on his friend Jerry Baker, bloopers, and a behind-the-scenes featurette with director Dylan Baker. The most fascinating part of the extras was the apology for the scene where the antagonist drinks beer.

I’ve got to say it was weird for three reasons. First, the antagonist lived a life filled with bad behavior and the audience understood that his drinking binge was one of those bad behaviors. However, the apology suggested that the antagonist was a bad person and someone needed to apologize for his life. But, the antagonist wasn’t a bad person. He was a person who lived in the shadow of greatness and he never felt that he could compete, which led him to choose a pity party lifestyle – Clearly a person who needed encouragement, not condemnation.

Second, the scene was done tastefully, while depicting a true-life situation. It depicted fact and needed no apology for having captured the essence of the two boy’s relationship. The only people in the audience that might require an apology are those who live in their own world or at least live in denial about reality.

Third, the drinking scene put drinking in perspective and made the protagonist’s life choices worth following and the antagonist’s life choices worth avoiding. No one should ever have to apologize for creating a scene that properly demonstrates right choices made by positive role models like the protagonist.

The bottom line is that 23 Blast is worth watching to see the great new actors and a realistic role-modeling scene about life choices. But, it’s also worth avoiding because the bad music and slow paced editing deflates the energy that football typically brings to the screen.


4 thoughts on “23 Blast Fails to Deliver an Incredible True Story

  1. ‘though I haven’t seen 23, it is so refreshing to read a critique that gives both the praise, but also the realistic perspective that not all films, even those well intentioned, makes the grade in appealing to a real audience, real people who live in the real world, who have made some of the same mistakes shown in a movie. Yes, it’s great to be an encourager, but false praise does not benefit anyone, so thanks CJ! I may just have to pick this on up!

    • Thanks for your comments, Francine. Creating screen worthy realism takes more time and money than most independents choose to spend, but I’m confident those who take that extra step will be rewarded with great audience support.

      • I like his assessment of Jerry Baker as the protagonist in this storyline! My take on him (Baker) is that his BFF , Travis viewed that friendship with an almost cold detachment (per his own interview concerning Jerry) in that he almost dismisses this lifelong friendship in terms of Jerry choosing the wrong path in life , indulging in ‘self pity!’ while he chose the right path! I think that Travis was into himself, because he was always admired for his leadership qualities, loved by his teammates and the people . So it is little wonder that he did not see the pain and almost rejection that Jerry suffered at the hands of these same individuals! (I’m going by the scene when Jerry is caught by Travis drinking beer.) If this confrontation was true (not scripted for dramatic effect) Jerry was crying out for help to Travis to help him to find his way through the quagmire he was in! (Ironically, Travis was in his own ‘quagmire’ when his first lost his sight and it was Jerry who helped him to get out of his funk!) It surprises me that Travis being a devout Christian, not blaming God for his tragedy, could so caviler by dismissing Jerry’s plight as “choosing the wrong path in life!” TRAVIS! JERRY WAS CALLING FOR HELP! THE SAME HELP YOU RECEIVED WHEN YOU WERE GIVING UP! My POV is based on a film that is loosely based on true events, so unfair assessments (on my part) could have been made, for that I apologize to Travis. What say you?

  2. I think your assessment is fair based on your interpretation of the film. I don’t have any idea how much of the story holds to the actual events, so I try to allow a certain amount of grace as each viewer interprets the artform as the picture unfolds. I also appreciate your comment about the irony of one guy needing help from the other and later the opposite is true, especially when there is a sense of judgment from only one perspective. It’s amazing in life that when we condemn another’s choice, we typically find ourselves vulnerable to the same problem down the road. Thanks for sharing.

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