Hear Me Review: Last Chance U
Last Chance U Trailer
Last Chance U Review
To begin with, I must request forgiveness. As a British man, I am forced to refer to the subject of the following Netflix show as 'American Football' because we vehemently refuse to use the term 'Soccer' when discussing the sport that involves 11 people on each team running around and kicking a ball, preferably into a net.
As a relatively new fan of the NFL (Go Jags!) I've been eagerly awaiting the 2016 season and lapping up as much information, news and related media I can get my hands on; but this also serves as a warning. I have gone into this docu-drama with very little knowledge of the subject material and as such, it has been fascinating to me in many ways. It also means I may get some of my facts (or more specifically, my terminology) incorrect, so please accept my apologies in advance. But hopefully my position will offer a somewhat unique perspective in comparison to the reviews you may have already read.
Last Chance U follows the story of East Mississippi Community College and the students that are skilled enough to play for their football team. But they'll need more than just athletic prowess, as they struggle with their studies and personal issues along with all the pressure that goes with it. Opening with intrigue, the first episode starts in the heat of an all-out brawl, as two fully kitted teams are raining punches and stomps on one another—helmets are flying back and forth, officials and coaches are trying to desperately divide and end the conflict but to no avail. And we immediately cut to the players we will follow for an all too brief six episodes, standing and staring at the camera in silence, as we hear their coach condemning the violent behaviour we have just witnessed. We rewind to three months prior.
It's a great start to a documentary that knows exactly how to drum up drama—the stakes are high to those involved and the adversity is great for a multitude of reasons. Quarterbacks are vying for the top spot, natural born athletes are skipping classes, and coaches and teachers are pouring their all into young men that will leave at the end of the year with happy endings or in tragic uncertainty.
You become invested in these young adults, desperately wanting them to succeed and thanks to Hollywood and cinema culture, you almost forget the possibility that some of them simply won't. And as a new fan to American Football, it's an excellent introduction to the mentality of certain pockets of America in regards to this sport and its importance. You're forced to constantly question whether all the effort (and presumably money) that is dedicated to people that just won't put the effort required in is worth it. But that's a conversation point, among many other notable hot topics brought up following key events that require whole articles to themselves.
Each episode culminates in a season match against another college team and this is where the people behind the cameras and in the editing rooms get a chance to flex their film making muscles. Tension and suspense is built with real finesse, as we cut between big plays, coaches ranting, and players hyping themselves and one another up. And when your subject matter is a team that has won 24 games in a row and the all-time record is 26, the drama writes itself. After Netflix put out the equally excellent Making A Murderer less than a year ago, for them to upload another exceptional docu-drama so quickly is reassuring. The genre is fast becoming an art form to be reckoned with and I couldn't be more happy that a second season has already been confirmed.