42 tells the (mostly) true tale of how Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) broke the Major League color barrier in 1947, becoming the first black player to appear in a Major League baseball game since 1884. Robinson's story is inspirational, and there are times when Brian Helgeland's conventional narrative evokes powerful emotions. Unfortunately, the generic bio-pic structure of 42 prevents it from ever becoming something great. The film takes no chances and does nothing bold. It's a competent chronicle of Robinson's life from 1945 through 1947 but it doesn't do much more than a documentary could do. Instead of being the definitive cinematic interpretation of Robinson's turbulent clash with baseball's deeply embedded culture of segregation, it offers a rote account of events. It's worth seeing because the film is competently presented and the story is inherently important, but I couldn't help be disappointed that the result wasn't more fresh or visionary.
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