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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

The Redeem Team: Review

The Redeem Team Synopsis: The U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team traveled to the 2008 Beijing Olympics to embark on a quest for the coveted gold medal that eluded them four years prior and make history for the team.

Following a disastrous finish in the 2004 Olympic games, the U.S. Men’s Basketball team’s legacy-defining run in 2008 takes center stage in the latest Netflix documentary, The Redeem Team. It’s an unofficial contractual obligation for me to review every sports film released, given my obsession with basketball and football.

Sports films themselves are sadly a dying breed theatrically. Fortunately for me and other sports fans, Netflix continues to give athletics a platform with a mixture of thought-provoking (the Untold: Malice in the Palace doc is a must for NBA fans) and lackluster documentaries (Tony Parker: The Final Shot might as well been a commercial for the Spurs point guard legend).

With The Redeem Team, director Jon Weinbach gathers several marquee figures, like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, the late Kobe Bryant, and Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, to reflect on the U.S. Basketball team’s historic gold medal run. The results are an engaging yet slightly conventional trip down memory lane for a series of the sport’s most influential voices.

Weinbach mines potent moments from his sharp utilization of archival footage. Like Michael Jordan’s spell-binding doc The Last Dance, The Redeem Team offers intimate glimpses into the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day grind of the U.S. team looking to find themselves following soul-crushing disappointment in 2004. Weinbach’s incorporation of candid speeches, tireless practice sessions, and joyous blips of infectious camaraderie provide a personable lens that reflects the team’s undying commitment toward redemption.

The interviews Weinbach hosts here also elicit impact. The Redeem Team is perhaps most impactful in analyzing the Olympic run as a stepping stone for James, Wade, Bosh, Anthony, and “Point God” Chris Paul – five NBA stars representing the sport’s bright future in 2008. Now in their late 30s, the quintet offers meaningful meditations on the collective odyssey they endured in their quest for eternal greatness. It’s also touching to see several of Bryant’s archival interviews featured here, with the star’s lingering resonance among the NBA community radiating in full force.

The Redeem Team is a succinct and engaging experience, but Weinbach’s work does stumble into some commonplace documentary pratfalls. A modern movement of celebrities cultivating their desired image via documentaries is a bit of a dual-edged sword. While receiving doses of raw reflection from a cast of figureheads is appealing, films like The Redeem Team often feel too regimented by PR protectiveness over celebrity brands. This phenomenon continues to make documentaries a less objective source than they used to be, and I think it’s hurting the genre in the long run.

I still dug The Redeem Team as a rabid NBA fan. Weinbach’s proficient feature should appeal to diehard fans and newcomers to the sport alike.

The Redeem Team is now playing on Netflix.


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