REVIEW: ‘Rooney’ Clears The Air

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rooney - But Why Tho

Rooney is a sports documentary and Prime Video Original directed by Matt Smith. The documentary covers the life of Wayne Rooney, the English footballer who rose to fame unlike any other. From Rooney’s early life to his explosion at Everton, expectations at Manchester United and England, emotional outbursts in his personal life, and the end of his career as a player transitioning into a manager.

The film moves somewhat chronologically as it depicts the timeline of the footballer. The archive footage of the matches and press conferences are interspersed with present-day scenes. In these, Rooney presents his family life, including his wife Colleen, his children, and even his parents. The structure of the film works well as it settles the reader and is easy to follow. There is a warmth to the presentation and the pace moves slowly but comfortably. 

One of the most notable aspects of the tone of Rooney is it exists to highlight his talent and achievements. This man is England and Manchester United’s top goalscorer and the documentary wants to remind the audience of how good he was. Interviews with gigantic figures in the world of football and Rooney himself comment on his ability. He had an ego and still does, recognizing himself as one of the best young footballers ever. Former players such as Thierry Henry and David Beckham are shown clips of him as a young Evertonian, tackling and scoring and weaving between defenders. The awe in their faces is clear and exciting, and there’s a youthful smirk on the now 36-year old Rooney. This recollection and celebration of a man whose iconic skill may have been forgotten in time is a beautiful part of the film.

But this isn’t just a glorified propaganda piece. There is a brutal honesty to the film as Rooney’s biggest mistakes are aired out in the open. Both Wayne and Colleen talk openly about their lives and what has gone wrong. Brazen discussions about his relationship with alcohol and his often burning anger. Admissions are made about actions that could very realistically lead to consequences many years later. And this reviewer gets the impression that Rooney doesn’t care about how this is perceived. It’s like he is getting it off his chest. Journalists and teammates will highlight when he did wrong. Gary Neville in particular gives a fantastic speech that shows the documentary isn’t depicting a masterpiece.

Perhaps the most investing moments are when his wife is asked about moments within their personal life, with many of those stories being aired as publicly as humanly possibly. The director will linger on the shot as Colleen speaks. Not to catch her out, but to allow the answer to be detailed. She trips over her words, she stutters, but it is as natural an answer as you will get. 

The most powerful part of Rooney is exposing the outside factors that did not help his evolution as a person. He was suddenly thrown into the limelight. Two kids who grew up loving each other from early in their childhood were suddenly one of the most famous couples in the British media. It’s almost heartbreaking to see how both of the Rooneys were treated. Whilst not always existing as excuses for certain actions, it provides the other side of the story, which newspapers have neglected to do themselves.

The footage of the football matches are among some of the greatest among sports documentaries. A select few are chosen as spotlight games, integral parts of Rooney’s blossoming career. Exclusively close to striker, following him as he moved. The intensity of his game and the ferocity in which he played is on display. The closeness of the camera brings the audience so close to the action. Over the top is some great narration by present-day Rooney or some of the other participators in the interviews. The sound is impeccable, matching the respective tones of what the filmmakers intended. In Rooney’s record-breaking match against Arsenal, heavy rock music provides energy to the event. But when needed the sound can dissipate altogether, falling into complete silence. The editing of the entire movie is fantastic.

Rooney clears the air on a tumultuous but terrific career. One of the most divisive figures in English football history reveals a lot of his life in a beautifully edited and shot documentary. It is a balanced retelling of events from a person who has had so much of his history and personality dictated by other people. Some criticisms were justified, but others were based on misconceptions or misunderstandings. As mentioned several times, he was a boy who quickly had to become a man. But it’s important to note that he never gives an excuse or seems to justify when he did something wrong.

Rooney is an open and introspective manuscript as the iconic footballer transitions into the next part of his career. And it gave the audience one more display of just how unbelievably good he was.

Rooney is available now, exclusively on Prime Video.

  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10


Rooney is an open and introspective manuscript as the iconic footballer transitions into the next part of his career. And it gave the audience one more display of just how unbelievably good he was.