Not Approved

Brian Banks

The Dove Take:

This real-life story of finding redemption cannot be Dove-Approved due to its language and lack of faith elements. However, Brian Banks does offer inspiration as it focuses on how a man who is wrongly accused and convicted persists to reclaim his innocence and eventually fulfill his dreams.
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Dove Review

The Synopsis:

This docudrama is based on the true story of NFL hopeful, Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge), who at age 16 was wrongly convicted of raping and kidnapping a female classmate and sentenced to serve five years in prison, followed by a five-year probation. During his probation, he fights to prove his innocence and get exonerated.

The Review

When the film begins, we are introduced to Banks as an adult as he watches boys playing football in a park. The movie then takes us to Banks being assigned his ankle monitor as he begins his five years of probation as part of the sentence for his rape conviction.

We later learn, through flashbacks and narration, when Banks was 16 years old he and classmate, Kennisha Rice (Xosha Roquemore) went to a school stairway to fool around. Before anything happens, they are interrupted by the sound of someone in the stairway and Banks tells Rice, “I’m not feeling this anymore,” and leaves her. Rice seems hurt by Banks’s rejection and when she is stopped by a school security guard and questioned, she says she was dragged into the stairway and raped by Banks.

Banks is soon arrested. On the day of his trial, his attorney provides poor representation by suggesting he plead no contest to avoid going to prison. The attorney tells Banks that the all-white jury will surely convict a large black man. Banks swears by his innocence and the DNA proves it, but the evidence is never presented in court because Banks pleads no contest to avoid a conviction. To Banks’s shock he is convicted as if he is guilty and sentenced to serve five years in prison, five years of probation and must be registered as a sex offender.

After spending close to six years in prison, Banks fights to clear his name. He learns of the California Innocence Project and tries to persuade the project’s director, Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear), to take his case. With the project’s support, Banks finally sees justice as he is exonerated. He works hard to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. After not making the cut with the Seattle Seahawks, Banks signs with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013.

Dove Rating Details


There is a redemptive message throughout the film as Banks fights to prove his innocence. Leading up to the moment Banks decides to fool around with Rice, he says (in narration) that he heard the voice of God but didn’t listen to it. While serving in solitary confinement, Banks tells God (through narration) he doesn’t feel Him anymore. Banks’s mom (Sherri Shepherd) holds on to the cross around her neck while waiting for the judge to grant Banks’s exoneration.


Mr. Johnson (Morgan Freeman), the prison counselor, tells Banks, “Let it all go or it’s going to pull you down.” Johnson tries to help Banks change his perspective by giving him the book, As a Man Thinketh, which is influenced by Proverbs 23:7. While in solitary confinement, Banks remembers Johnson’s words of encouragement and decides to change his attitude about his situation. Banks later says he doesn’t wish ill will against Rice for what she did.


Banks kisses Rice and they both begin to undress but nothing happens. Banks and his girlfriend, Karina (Melanie Liburd), hold hands. Banks puts his arm around Karina while they’re sitting on bleachers. The district attorney mentions “petting” when referring to Banks encounter with Rice.


Both Banks and Brooks say “f*ck the system.” Other expletives include A, S, B, p*ss, GD, H, d*ck around.


Banks is accused of raping Rice. In a conversation with Banks, Karina implies she was raped and had bruises. Banks punches a fellow inmate in the face; we later find out he broke his jaw. Banks is arrested by police, handcuffed and forcibly removed from his home. A prisoner is shown holding a knife. Police officers are shown with holstered guns. Banks punches a punching bag in a gym. Boys and NFL players are shown tackling in football.


A group of men are shown smoking. Banks and Brooks meet in a bar and drink beer. Other people in the bar are shown drinking. Banks’s mom’s car is searched for drugs but none is found.


Banks is shirtless on two occasions. Rice wears short shorts and a revealing top. Karina wears a tank top on two occasions while at the gym, some cleavage is visible.


Banks lies to his parole officer. Banks videotapes Rice without her consent. Banks tries to remove his ankle monitor so his whereabouts cannot be tracked.

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