“You’ve got something deep inside you, and you’ve got to face that fear,” an ex-track coach (Richard Jenkins) tells his pupil (Kelly Blatz) in 4 Minute Mile. “Otherwise you’ll turn out to be me — and you don’t want that. But if you do face that fear, it’ll change your life.”
Ham-fisted dialogue dominates this picture, with characters expressing central plot points in a manner that makes hammering a nail seem subtle. This isn’t the film’s only problem — 4 Minute Mile is cobbled together with every sports underdog cliché imaginable. There’s the talented youth (Drew) from a troubled background striving for a better life with his skill (running); an older brother (Cam Gigandet) who’s mixed up with the wrong crowd; a poor, helpless mother (Kim Basinger, in a thankless role); and an adoring female who sees only the good in our hero (Analeigh Tipton).
Of course there’s also Jenkins’s alcoholic ex-runner, glory days far behind him. Watching Jenkins work with this material is a bit like watching LeBron James ball with middle schoolers; he valiantly tries to make the most of it. Unfortunately, the narrative is so formulaic as to feel immediately contrived, with seemingly every plot device taken from another film.
Additionally, director Charles-Olivier Michaud’s formal approach is to treat the film like something between a made-for-TV movie and a Gatorade commercial, with lugubrious slow-motion photography and roving Steadicam shots that convey motion but not movement.
Lacking self-awareness, the film suffers from its inability to understand its presentation.