Crooked Arrows: Film Review

This would-be inspirational sports drama introduces Native American culture and lacrosse into its predictable mix.

Directed by Steve Rash, the film stars Brandon Routh as a part-Native American businessman who returns to his Indian reservation to coach high school lacrosse, as he struggles to reconcile his past and his present.

Sports movie and Native American tropes are freely intermingled in Crooked Arrows, a would-be inspirational drama chiefly memorable for providing a fresh ethnic variation on a tired genre. Predictable from first moment to last, it does at least provide a showcase for lacrosse, a sport heretofore cinematically unexploited.

In this film partly financed by the Onandaga Nation, Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) plays the central role of Joe Logan, a part Native-American who has largely forgotten his roots to become a big shot businessman desperate to build a massive casino on tribal ground.

PHOTOS: 28 of Summer's Most Anticipated Movies: 'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight,' 'Prometheus'

In the sort of clichéd plot development that’s apparently taught in Screenwriting 101, former sports star Joe is forced by the reservation to accept the condition that he coach their high-school lacrosse team and help bring them to victory against the boorish white preppies with whom they’re competing.

Will Joe give up his designer duds and fancy sports car to reconnect with his ancestral heritage? Will he strike up sparks with his former high school girlfriend (Crystal Allen) who has devoted herself to teaching school on the reservation? Will he restore his sell-out reputation in the community? Will he forge a new closeness with his widowed father (Gil Birmingham) and spunky kid sister (Chelsea Ricketts) who plays for the team? Will the team of ragtag underdogs get it together under his tutelage?

The answers, not surprisingly, are yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

The screenplay’s groaningly predictable plot elements are somewhat alleviated by the spirited lacrosse action well handled by director Steve Rash. Unfortunately, the frequent introduction of quasi-spiritual mumbo jumbo—there’s much made of a bald eagle who apparently represents the spirit of Joe’s dead mother—repeatedly bogs down the action.

The perpetually bland Routh--who is actually part Native American--somehow manages to be utterly unconvincing in his mixed-race role. He does, however, frequently doff his shirt to showcase his chiseled torso, which will provide compensation for some viewers.

As if to reinforce the fact that the film seems to spring from decades past, there’s a spirited montage set to one-hit wonder Chumbawamba’s peppy “Tubthumping.” Score one for nostalgia.

Opened June 1 (Freestyle Releasing).
Production: Peck Entertainment, Branded Pictures Entertainment.
Cast: Brandon Routh, Gil Birmingham, Crystal Allen, Chelsea Ricketts, Alexandra East, Lindsay MacDonald, Tom Kemp, Lee Cunningham, Emmalyn Anderson, Kayla Ruhl.
Director: Steve Rash.
Producers: J. Todd Harris, Mitchell Peck, Adam Leff.
Executive producers: Jeffrey McCormick, Brandon Routh.
Screenwriters: Todd Baird, Brad Riddell.
Director of photography: Daniel Stoloff.
Editors: Danny Saphire, Bart Rachmil.
Production designer: Carl Sprague.
Music: Brian Ralson.
Rated PG-13, 105 min.