Facing Nolan is a sports documentary that is as no nonsense as its subject. The film looks at Nolan Ryan through the lens of the batters who had to face him and the teammates who played with him. There are also interviews with fans of Ryan and baseball in general. It is a straightforward look at a pitching legend that lacks any of the drama of similar releases.
Part of the mass appeal of modern documentaries is their willingness to focus on the most shocking details. Even sports related ones have been more about dark secrets and over the top hatreds than impressive stats. There is no doubting the entertainment value in these salacious stories, but they also tend to overlook what a person has accomplished.
Facing Nolan bucks this trend by sticking to the facts. It is an old school approach that is refreshing and entertaining. There is no rise and fall (much like other sports legends, some of Ryan’s best seasons were at the end of his career) nor questions about what could have been. Instead, the film chronicles the career of Ryan with a focus on his numbers on the field. Facing Nolan can be a little pedestrian at times – there are a plethora of interviews and the odd decision to use dramatic recreations instead of showing actual footage. That being said, the film has a feelgood quality that is not seen often today.
When it is does go into juicier details, it is not the kind of stuff that drives today’s clickbait world. There is talk of trades and contract negotiations, but it is the type of stuff that is part and parcel today. Even Ryan’s most YouTube friendly moment is just another part of his story. Facing Nolan accurately captures a time in baseball history. Major League Baseball players are bigger and stronger now, but the NFL and NBA have eclipsed it in popularity. This film is a reminder of why there used to be no argument about which sport was America’s Pastime.
Facing Nolan premieres in over 1,000 theaters around the United States on May 24. Tickets for the Fathom Event can be purchased HERE
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