Like many Hollywood sports movies, this Jackie Robinson biopic seems to be pitched at high schoolers, but writer-director Brian Helgeland still manages a pretty absorbing account of Robinson’s rookie year as the first black player in major-league baseball. Chadwick Boseman is appropriately anguished as Robinson, who struggles to control his rage as he absorbs a torrent of abuse from white fans, players, and officials. But ironically, the most valuable player here is Harrison Ford, giving one of the best performances of his career as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. At 70, Ford has finally grown into his curmudgeonly persona, and he digs into the role of Rickey, reconciling the deep feeling of Christian brotherhood and naked professional ambition that motivated him to give Robinson a shot. The strong supporting cast includes Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Alan Tudyk, and John C. McGinley (as sportscaster Red Barber).
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Branch Rickey’s position with the Brooklyn Dodgers was general manager.