By TOM MEEK | December 20, 2006
In 1970, a plane carrying the Marshall University football team crashed, killing all on board. Director McG (Charlie’s Angels) tenderly re-creates the rise from tragedy as the university head (David Strathairn), an injured player who missed the flight (Anthony Mackie), and an idealistic coach (Matthew McConaughey) rebuild the West Virginia team in short order. Their biggest obstacle is the school board, which thinks it’s too soon; the upshot is that the film deals more with the nature of grief than with moving the ball downfield. McConaughey combines flakiness with optimism, and Matthew Fox (Jack on Lost) delivers the details as Red Dawson, the remorseful team recruiter, who can’t get over his decision to surrender his seat on the plane to someone in a hurry.