Breaking barriers is something that can define a person’s legacy.
Jackie Robinson deffinitely amounts to that. He is known for many things, but one of most defining facts about him is that he was the first African American to play Major League Baseball (MLB). The movie “42” focuses on Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, playing in the MLB (as number 42) and the struggles that came along with it. (Boseman is currently on the big screen in “Black Panther.”)
The movie does well to reveal the open racism during that time. The film particularly uses harsh language, but it wasn’t without warrant. The use of the “N” word wasn’t overused, but it was used to send the statement to the audience, to show them just how much push back Robinson had from other baseball members and the public. The gut-wrenching scenes of the spectators and white men screaming out such vulgar insults can be hard to to watch, but it was the reality of that time, it was what Robinson lived.
The movie also can teach viewers the valuable lesson of perseverance and determination. Robinson faced many struggles, some even from his own teammates, yet he didn’t give in. He didn’t let his anger or temper get the best of him. Robinson played ball. He swung. He hit a homerun in both in his legacy and for society.
Chadwick does well to capture the essence of a man driven by determination and perseverance. He illuminates his inner struggles, and in one scene even goes under the ball pit, smashing the bat against the wall instead of using it against one of the rival team members who continued to be little him during the game. In those moments, we can see the frustration of the character, the buildup that we had anticipated all along, come to life. It shows the viewer that people are hu-man, that words truly have an impact.
The film does drag on in some parts, making the meetings between the characters awkward at times there are long pauses or seemingly odd distances between them. This also makes the viewer uncomfortable, but that could have been the point. Distance can make the viewer feel off , and that is an a effect that is either a hit or a miss. “42” uses this method, but it fails in parts. Yet, the film ultimately redeems itself with the more a effective camera angles and appropriate pauses from time to time.
Aside from some of the failed distances and angles for effect, the film is memorable. It’s one that can leave the viewer thinking about it months later because of the way in which Boseman acts out Robinson’s story. The performance the actor gives is convincing and refreshing. It has both humor, wit, and grit, three ingredients that whip up a spectacular performance.
“42” will leave the viewer with a sense of accomplishment seeing Robinson make the home
run, rounding home plate. The viewer is able to feel the race barrier being broken in those moments, to feel Robinson’s sense of accomplishment too.