Captains - The Chosen Few (2022)

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A friend of mine had suggested watching the docuseries Captains, but I had not realized that there are 2 such docuseries on Netflix. This one, Captains – The Chosen Few, was released in 2022 and follows 6 national teams and their captains as they try to qualify for WC 2022 in Qatar.

Over 8 episodes, this series shows us the concerns and a few of the WCQ qualifying games of the captains Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Luka Modric (Croatia), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Hassan Maatouk (Lebanon), Brian Kaltack (Vanuatu), and Andre Blake (Jamaica).

The best bits

A little bit of history and recent events are sprinkled in with the captains’ stories, such as:

  • Hassan Maatouk talks about the 2020 explosion in a Lebanon dock area, which killed many and still continues to impact the economy. His players cannot really afford to keep playing.
  • Thiago Silva shows the varzea street environment in which Brazilians learn to play futebol, but as a youngster, he really preferred to fly kites.
  • Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s father is the Manager of Gabon, and Auba wants to live up to his dad’s national team legacy. (The series doesn’t mention that Auba’s career is self-destructing at Arsenal during this time in 2021.)
  • Andre Blake alludes to the difficulty getting the British-born players (the majority) to gel with the rest of the Jamaicans on his team. During qualifying, Manager Theodore Whitmore is terminated, and by the end of the series, Blake reveals his feeling that the team had no unity, teammate Ravel Morrison was toxic, and they have to rebuild with a new cord of young Jamaicans.
  • There is quite a revealing scene where Luka Modric tells the GK Dominik Livakovic that he is radiating uncertainty and it is rubbing off on the team. I felt a little bit sorry for the GK and the invasion of his privacy, but Fulwell73 even replayed this scene in the second series. You can see a bit of this moment in the trailer, where the GK asks Modric, “Can you tell them not to film?”
  • Vanuatu’s story is a bizarre bit that I didn’t know. 34 of 35 on the team test positive for COVID before their WCQ game vs Haiti. The game is cancelled, and Vanuatu withdraws from qualifying. Captain Brian Kaltack tries to keep spirits up while the players are quarantined for 10 days in their Qatari hotel. I assume it must have included the film staff as well. But it is nice to get a glimpse of Denis Bouanga’s tatooed abs.

The style of editing

Throughout both series, Fulwell73 has an editing style that pieces together footage in hallucinogenic blips that are each less than a second long. It’s a style that historically was enabled by digital editing, and usually used when filmmakers wanted to convey an instantaneous flashback sequence in a story.

The difference here is that the entire series is composed that way. They also blip back and forth between the captains’ stories, making it difficult to track what is happening to the players and what is important. The filmmakers use this method to instill anxiety, drama, and excitement, but it is more like giving the viewer 5 hours of seizures. The trailer is a good example. Is this the new way of storytelling? It is like digital shouting and I find it mind-numbing.

In Conclusion

In this review, I’m short changing the themes of what Captains do for their teams and the pressure they undergo. After watching > 450 soccer movies, there is nothing new here, and why should there be? If you want to just enjoy your national team heroes, this is the series for you.

But if you don’t have anything emotionally invested in any of these teams, and given you already know who qualified and who excelled in the World Cup, this series might be a waste of your time. That’s the way I felt. That’s why I summarized the most pertinent facts that caught my attention. But frankly, my review of the second series, Captains of the World, is not going to be much better.

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6