Untold: Johnny Football (2023) Review – The rise and fall of a troubled star

The rise and fall of a troubled star

In many ways, Untold: Johnny Football plays out in direct contrast to last week’s Jake Paul documentary. While Jake Paul served as the orchestrator of his own image, portraying his “bad boy” persona and thriving on the hatred, football player Johnny Manziel was thrust into the limelight ahead of his time and struggled to deal with it.

With a career that spiralled out of control almost as quickly as it began, college footballer Johnny Manziel’s story feels like a cautionary tale toward the media and the ungodly pressure put on young people suddenly thrown into the upper-echelons of the public eye.

While the narration near the start claims that Johnny Manziel is “as big as Elvis or the Beatles”, if you don’t follow NFL football, the chances are you’re probably not familiar with this young man’s journey. Well, this 70 minute documentary film does a pretty good job of showcasing everything, starting with Johnny’s childhood and building up to him playing football in Texas at A&M college.

A naturally gifted athlete, Johnny broke the mould early on by not only failing to train as hard as the others, but also not conforming to the same ruleset and ethos that others in the college football team did. The result is a man who’s as naturally gifted as he is a free-spirited and unmanageable.

There’s a lot of detail put into depicting Johnny’s pivotal game against Alabama after A&M join SEC, which ultimately led to his meteoric rise. This also works as a double-edged sword though, given it also started his catastrophic downfall.

Alongside this journey, the documentary also brings up some interesting topics for debate. Specifically, there’s shade thrown at the NCAA and how colleges profit over athletes like Johnny Manziel, given they’re not paid a fair share of the money these institutions see off the back of the blood, sweat and tears put in by college football stars. 

The documentary uses a number of talking head interviews with various friends, family members and agents to flesh out the story though, alongside narration from Johnny himself to really dive into what was happening to this young man during crucial times of his career.

What’s very evident throughout is just how much pressure Johnny Manziel was under. This is something only exacerbated by the constant media scrutiny, ultimately becoming too much and causing Manziel to spiral out of control. Quite what’s next for this football star remains a mystery but Netflix’s latest documentary certainly does a good job of depicting his journey up until this point.

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

  • Verdict - 7/10

Leave a comment