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SBD/February 1, 2013/Media
Former NHLer Chris Nilan Stars In New Documentary About NHL Enforcers
Published February 1, 2013
THE REVIEWS ARE IN: In N.Y., Farran Smith Nehme gives the documentary two-and-a-half out of four stars and writes Gibney "deserves credit for making a hockey film that the uninitiated can watch with interest, and for focusing on an issue even some hockey fans can't make up their minds about." Smith Nehme: "But he is awfully coy here. When 'The Last Gladiators' treats brawls like greatest-hits clips for more than half the movie, then suggests fighting is behind Nilan's decline, it feels like trying to have it both ways" (N.Y. POST, 2/1). Also in N.Y., Elizabeth Weitzman gave the film two out of five stars and wrote Gibney has "taken a rare misstep." There is "undoubtedly a great story within the bruised history of NHL enforcers," but why "did he choose Chris Nilan's?" There is "nothing here that proves his worth as a subject." Weitzman: "Mostly, he seems like an arrogant hothead who lucked into a career that allowed him to vent his aggression in legal ways. ... He tells his story honestly, but with no great sense of self-awareness or insight" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/31). The N.Y. TIMES' Nicolas Rapold writes Gibney "scales down his approach considerably here, generally for the better, rather than extrapolate a theory of violence and everything." The film is "very much about a particular part of ice hockey, the heavies rather than the Gretzkies." Rapold: "That also means that the film can at times feel like stories of fights overheard at a bar, complete with the tale of woe" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1).