Home Movies Reviews ‘Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul’ Netflix Review - Betting, Basketball, and Boredom

‘Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul’ Netflix Review - Betting, Basketball, and Boredom

The documentary film is about former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who revisits the scandal that shook up the league years after serving time for betting on games he officiated

Vikas Yadav - Tue, 30 Aug 2022 12:57:05 +0100 7008 Views
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Do you know Tim Donaghy? He is the former NBA referee who gambled on NBA games officiated by him. In Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul, directed by David Terry Fine, we are told how and why Tim gambled and who were others involved with him. The documentary interviews Tim, his best friend Tommy Marino, and a gambler linked with the mob named James Batista.

Apparently, if Elvis was the king of rock, then Tim was the king of betting. Money poured like rain because of him. The movie offers a magnified shot of cash as if practically screaming that this bundle of green paper was the driving force in the scandal. So what happened? As Tommy says, they earned a lot of cash, had a lot of fun, got caught, and finally had to come out clean by admitting whatever they did. The pleasure turned into a nightmare when the FBI got to know about the gambling.

If you don't know or don't care about Tim's story, don't expect a miracle from Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul, as it does nothing to reel you in. There is no sense of suspense or excitement while watching this documentary. People speak as if they have rehearsed their lines. Even their gestures feel practiced. The movie simply extracts information from interviewees and dumps it into our heads. Their tone lacks a personal touch. You feel as if they are performing on cue when they suddenly scream or cry.

Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul has no intention of pushing the boundaries of a documentary. Its beats - tracing the rise and fall of a controversial figure - are familiar. Its style, in which interviews are stitched with real-life footage, has nothing new to offer. Well, the documentary tries to infuse swag into its dull body by often showing the interviewees walking on the road or driving somewhere. However, the effect it achieves is quite the opposite. This choice lands like a work of an amateur or a student filmmaker who has just got his hands on expensive devices and desires to shoot people in slick frames. The impression is exacerbated by texts that highlight the crucial points. For instance, we see (and are told) that a stick is a hundred thousand and a balloon equals a million. The choice of putting words on screen comes across as a lazy and desperate attempt to shock or excite the audience. Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul also uses this trick to distract us from the fact that what we are watching is inflated with boredom.

Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul thinks a scandalous subject is enough to hook a viewer for 1 hour and 17 minutes. Fine achieves a glossy look, though he cannot conceal the hollowness peddled by his images. There is a shot where images from a screen are projected on Tim's face. You can justify it by saying that the shot conveys how this man's public countenance has now been shaped by past events (those images on his face are nothing but all the basketball games). But Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul does not deserve this interpretation. That particular shot of Tim is merely a pretty image that Fine produces because he can. Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul is like a Wikipedia page: You see it but don't feel it.

Final Score – [3/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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