Invincible Ericson Core

Vince Papale’s (Mark Wahlberg) wife has left him, he is behind on his bills and he has just lost his job. His hometown is benighted by a blue-collar strike and the Philadelphia Eagles’ uninspiring performance has left the striking workmen disillusioned. When Vince gives a successful audition at an open Eagles tryout, Coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) rewards Papale by putting him into training with the team, where his identity, confidence and friendships are put on trial.

Cinematographer and first-time director Ericson Core delivers well-intentioned sports fare, beautifully shot and acted, with an arresting sepia-toned sense of region, and an excellent performance from Mark Wahlberg. However, Kinnear’s Coach Vermeil doesn’t have much to offer aside from pensive contemplation and useless digressions — frequent conversations with wife Carol (Paige Turco) only serve to remind the audience of what is going on.

The dialogue is charming, though the story suffers with an irritatingly non-dramatic conclusion. Invincible would seem on the surface to suffer from predictable progression — the hero falls from grace, redeems himself, falters, regains — but in light of its ending, such predictability would be welcome. Owing perhaps to its real-life basis (the movie is based on the actual Vince Papale’s achievements), the film concludes abruptly with a sentimental after word pinned under its credits. With this non-conclusive finale, what is at times a rousing film brushes itself off.

An adequate balance of comedy and romance engage the audience during Papale’s quest — comedy in the form of Papale’s neighbourhood pals, romance in the form of bartender Janet (Elizabeth Banks), a New York Giants fan. However, the attempts to link factory unrest and home team failure are not altogether successful, but serve to counter the Horatio Alger-ism of Papale’s story with invariable working class realism. (Buena Vista)