Movie Review: Amateur

Amateur is one of the new films that has been added to Netflix’s catalogue. The film has Michael Rainey Jr. (Power, Orange is the New Black) starring as Terron Forte, a 14 year old star basketball player who is pressured into being recruited to an elite prep school by the school’s coach who promises to make him an NBA All-Star.

I feel like this movie had potential, but was executed poorly. It had the opportunity capitalize off the recent NCAA corruption scandal along with giving insight to the dark side of amateur sports. However, it fell flat on its face as far I’m concerned.

Terron is an 8th grader who was recently kicked off his middle school team due to one bad grade in a math class. His poor grade in his math course is due to a learning disability called dyscalculia. Terron outshined the other players at his school so inevitably he stood out and was recruited by Coach Gaines who coached at a prep school that he was recruiting Terron for. Gaines wanted to seal the deal the same day he and Terrron met which was a red flag to me. He was pressed to get him and his parents on board. He made all sorts of promises and even said that the school had a program to accommodate his learning disability.

As expected nothing was like what Gaines told Terron. The team was living in a two bedroom house where the boys who came from all different backgrounds and age groups had to share a room together.

As time goes on corruption and deceit become the main themes of the film. Terron learned that Gaines was “influencing” many of the boys decision when it came to choosing a college because it affected his sponsorship and income. It was interesting how the film initially started out about a black boy with hoop dreams who had a learning disability and then it went way left. The movie tried to focus on too much at once. It touched on his father’s medical problems which then trickled down to his family’s financial problems. It briefly touched on the different aspects of Terron’s life by giving a little attention to his dyscalculia, shedding some light on his family’s financial problems and then diverting back to his hoop dreams.

Terron’s heavy social media presence led to him uploading a video of Coach Gaines and his father’s heated exchange about Terron not being able to leave the team because he was paid to play, which of course devastated him because who wants to find out that their father sold them off to a school in order to make rent for a little while. The video recording went viral on social media and ultimately jeopardized his chance to go further with basketball along with costing Coach Gaines his job.

Amongst many of the things that didn’t make sense Terron went and sought out Coach Gaines for guidance after everything that transpired. They both created a plan where Terron would play overseas. Shortly after that, he was conveniently put in the game to play against his old team despite the ongoing investigation.

I think that Michael Rainey Jr. is a talented actor, but with this film they didn’t give him much to work with from what I’ve watched. His character, Terron was a complex young black man, but they gave very little attention to the realities of a young, black student battling learning disabilities as well as what it’s actually like to be finessed by coaches and scouts.

“Amateur” had the potential to be very good movie, but because of its jumpy storyline it was executed poorly. It had the opportunity to easily capitalize off the recent NCAA corruption scandal along with giving viewers insight to the dark side of amateur sports, but it instead it fell short.

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