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The against-all-odds, based-on-a-true-story sports drama is among the safest designs in the film industry’s playbook. Take your average good-natured-but-down-on-his-luck Joe Six-Pack—in the case of Ericson Core’s Invincible, 30-year-old bartender, substitute teacher, and Philadelphia Eagles superfan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg)—and have him achieve his lifelong dream of making it big through a combination of hard work, determination, and luck. It’s a formula that’s worked countless times—including in Rudy, The Rookie, and Miracle—but the only marvel in this ho-hum adaptation of Papale’s unlikely route to a short-lived NFL career is how often first-time director and veteran cinematographer Core drops the ball. The camerawork in Invincible randomly alternates between static and out-of-control, often at the most inappropriate times; such is the case with coach Dick Vermeil’s (Greg Kinnear) opening pep talk, during which the camera dizzyingly swirls about the coach and his players to the point of inducing nausea. And screenwriter Brad Gann deserves as much, if not more, criticism for his dud of a script. In the film, playing for the Eagles isn’t exactly Papale’s lifelong aspiration: It’s more a pipe dream, one that he makes no attempt to realize until he’s presented with a gift-wrapped opportunity—which he only reluctantly takes advantage of, at the insistence of his supportive beer buddies. In fact, outside of a jealous cohort (who drunkenly states, “You’ll still be nothin’—just like the rest of us!”) and a couple of snarky teammates, no one actually ever tells Papale he can’t make the team. And it’s made obvious from the first day of training camp that he does have the talent to hang with the pros. So where, exactly, is the conflict? It’s certainly not in Papale’s we’re-not-ready relationship with his boss’ cousin, Janet (Elizabeth Banks). Her staunch allegiance to the New York Giants in a sea of South Philly blowhards is worth an easy laugh or two—but otherwise, their would-be courtship serves only as a tedious distraction from the action on the gridiron. Not that what takes place on the field is particularly compelling, either: For the most part, it consists of drills, more drills, and Papale repeatedly getting knocked on his ass and then taking forever to get back up. Despite being completely undersized and of the wrong ethnicity for the part (the real Papale is 6-foot-2 and of Italian descent; the Irish-American Wahlberg is only 5-foot-8), Wahlberg does his best as the self-doubting nobody-turned-media-darling, but Invincible’s inherent flaw is that Papale’s feel-good story simply isn’t interesting enough to sustain Invincible’s 99-minute running time. And for all the time he spends setting up the film’s climax—in which a hard-charging Papale tackles a punt receiver, recovers the fumble, and runs the ball almost 40 yards for the game-winning touchdown—Core inexplicably sucks the last breath of air from the film only minutes later, when the significantly underwhelming footage of the actual play rolls alongside the credits.—Matthew Borlik