Rise
Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Rise is a fast break true story

Director Akin Omotoso brings a heartwarming true-life tale to Disney+ in the winning basketball drama Rise. Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children while living under the daily threat of deportation. 

While their oldest son is still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers– Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport discovered their extraordinary abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world-class athletes, along with their brother, Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa). 

With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 as a long-shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season’s champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.

One of my favorite genres of film is a biopic. In addition, I am a casual basketball fan, so Rise was right up my alley. I knew the cliff notes of the Antetokounmpo story but didn’t know just how much they went through to get where they are in life now. The film follows the standard biopic template, which is fine as the cast turns in first-rate performances. I’ve always liked Dayo Okeniyi as a supporting actor, so it was great to see him in a lead role.

Okeniyi brings an everyman portrayal to the role of a man who wants to foster his boys’ dreams, while Yetide Badaki is excellent in the part of a matriarch. The young men who portray the Antetokounmpo brothers also provide concrete work tapping into the emotional depth the roles require while showing off commendable basketball skills.

 Rise is a harmless and enjoyable biopic that the whole family can enjoy.

 

Final Grade: A- 

Rise is streaming on Disney + today.

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