Brian Banks (2018): Tom Shadyac’s Biopic of Football Player Falsely Accused of Rape

Tom Shadyac directed Brian Banks, a biopic written by Doug Atchison, and starring Aldis Hodge in the titular role as a high school football linebacker.

Banks was falsely accused of rape, convicted, sent to prison and upon his release, attempted to fulfill his dream of making the National Football League.

The film premiered at the LA Film Festival in September 2018, and was theatrically released in the on August 9, 2019.

Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge), age 27, is a former high school football star living with his mother (Sherri Shepherd) in Long Beach, California.

He is currently on parole, registered as a sex offender, due to an incident 11 years prior where he and classmate, Kennisha (Xosha Roquemore), sneaked off to kiss.

When he overheard teachers approaching, he fled to avoid getting caught, leading the scorned Kennisha to falsely accuse him of raping her.

On the advice of his attorney, Banks pled no contest to rape and was sentenced to six years of prison. His childhood dreams of becoming an NFL player were damaged when new laws require him to wear an ankle monitor at all times and stay 2,000 feet away from schools and public gathering spots, preventing him from playing football.

due to his criminal record, he has trouble finding legit employment. Banks approaches the California Innocence Project hoping to clear his name, and they advise him to write a plea of habeas corpus to the California legal system to get them to retry him.

When this fails, Innocence Project founder Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) explains that the justice system requires new evidence that incontrovertibly points to his innocence before they will hear his pleas; this excludes DNA evidence, which was taken during the original trial but never used in his defense. The lawyers interview several of Banks’ former classmates, but their word is not strong enough.

Things change when Banks unexpectedly receives a Facebook friend request from Kennisha, leading him to devise a scheme to trick her into confessing on tape that the rape allegation was fraudulent.

This seemingly succeeds, and Banks takes the tape to the Innocence Project. However, since Kennisha did not know she was being recorded, the evidence is inadmissible in court. Brooks sends the tape to the media, causing public outcry at the injustice of Banks’ situation.

Brooks approaches District Attorney Mateo (Jose Miguel Vasquez) and convinces him that Banks needs a new trial. Banks goes to court, but Kennisha refuses to testify and claims that Banks offered her $20,000 to say he didn’t rape her on tape. Mateo and Brooks confront her and eventually get her to say on the record that her bribe claim was a lie; this casts doubt on Banks’ guilt to convince the judge to overturn Banks’ conviction.

Banks cuts off the ankle bracelet and heads to a local park, where he enjoys a game of football with local children.

The final narration reveals that Pete Carroll, former University of Southern California coach who offered him scholarship to USC during his high school, invited him to try out for the Seattle Seahawks; failing to make the team due to declining skills (a result of extended prison time), Banks trained hard over the next year and eventually was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.

Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks
Greg Kinnear as Justin Brooks
Melanie Liburd as Karina Cooper
Xosha Roquemore as Kennisha Rice
Tiffany Dupont as Alissa Bjerkhoel
Sherri Shepherd as Leomia
Jose Miguel Vasquez as District Attorney Mateo
Morgan Freeman as Jerome Johnson (uncredited)
Dorian Missick as Officer Mick Randolph