The Oscar Project
We are only a few days away from Christmas, and the countdown of my top ten films of the year rolls on. Today’s film is my only documentary on the list this year, but totally worthy of the spot.
#8 The Redeem Team
The Redeem Team is one of those films I happened on while browsing through the films recently added to Netflix. I hadn’t heard anything about it prior to finding it there, but given how much I enjoyed The Last Dance a few years back, I figured this might be right up the same alley as that series.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The Redeem Team is very much a cousin to The Last Dance and if you have any interest in sports, especially professional and Olympic basketball, this is one you should give some time to. The film focuses on the 2008 USA Men’s Basketball team and the journey they took to return to Olympic prominence, after falling short of a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. While the 2004 team had some established stars, many of the players were up and coming stars like Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and of course LeBron James. They had yet to find championship success in the NBA but had high hopes of continuing the United States’ dominance in the Olympics.
So, after a disappointing finish, coming home from Athens with only a bronze medal, the core group of players were ready to return to the Olympics in Beijing and plant the United States firmly back on the top of the medal stand.
New Team USA coach, and longtime Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski was brought in to lead the team and many wondered how this group of professionals would respond to a college coach. But the plan worked, and the team started to gel. James, Anthony, and Wade all returned to the team along with a number of other players, and Kobe Bryant was brought in to add his killer instinct to the team. Everyone came together under the same goal of bringing the US back to the top of men’s basketball and *spoiler alert* it worked.
The best part of this documentary was seeing the players relive this time of their lives. We are 14 years down the road from the events portrayed, and many of the players interviewed for the film have gone on to win multiple NBA championships, but they still talk about this period in their career fondly and appreciate the ability to represent their country on the world stage.
Unfortunately, we only get Bryant’s voice in archival interviews, but his presence in the film and on the team feels like just the right fit. It would be hard to tell the story of this team without any of his input, from the first game at the Olympics where he put his Lakers teammate Pao Gasol on the floor to the images from the team hotel at the end of the games where they celebrated Bryant’s birthday, with his toddler daughter Gianna in his arms.
The Redeem Team did what they set out to do, and this film tells that story so well. As with yesterday’s film The Sea Beast, The Redeem Team is available on Netflix, so check it out today!
The rest of the posts in this series are all linked below.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?